Back in 1984, a young filmmaker earned his ticket into Hollywood by crafting a low-budget sci-fi horror which, in the long run, influenced its genre so much that it is now universally acknowledged as one of the greatest films ever made. That filmmaker’s name was James Cameron and his breakthrough feature was The Terminator. Seven years later, Cameron returned to this world again with a much bigger & far better sequel, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which remains a benchmark for its genre(s) even today. And while it broke numerous box-office records, it was never intended to be a cashgrab movie. Instead, it was the final chapter of James Cameron’s Terminator saga and mostly made use of elements which he had wanted to use in the first film but couldn’t due to the absence of required resources, both in budget & filmmaking technology.
But thanks to the insatiable greed of studio executives as well as the major role these two Terminator films played in influencing action filmmaking, modern sci-fi & pop-culture, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was put into production without Cameron’s involvement and so began the decline of the franchise which until then had been a work of perfection. The utter failure of this unnecessary third chapter did stop things for a while but then they decided to revitalise the franchise with a new vision & setting. Terminator Salvation became the first in the new planned trilogy but its universal panning made sure that its subsequent instalments never see the light of day. However, these people never learn. And so now, we have Terminator Genisys; a possible reboot of the Terminator series that tries to free itself from the unmatched legacy of first two films by erasing the existence of their timelines.
The fifth instalment in The Terminator franchise, the story of Terminator Genisys is set in an alternate timeline and begins with Human Resistance leader John Connor launching a final offensive against Skynet, thus prompting the artificial-intelligence system to play its only option. Although the offensive is successful, Connor discovers that Skynet has succeeded in sending a Terminator back in time to kill his mother & thus eliminate his existence. The plot then follows Kyle Reese; Connor’s right hand man who volunteers to travel through time in order to save Sarah Connor but due to a sudden turn of events, ends up in an altered timeline where he discovers Sarah to be already aware of the future in addition to her being brought up by a reprogrammed Terminator. Finding himself in a totally unexpected & unfamiliar territory, Reese decides to team up with Sarah on a new mission to reset the future.
Directed by Alan Taylor, whose previous work was on Thor: The Dark World, Terminator Genisys is as absurd, pointless & unnecessary as any sequel can get, just like every other instalment has been ever since James Cameron wrapped up his Terminator saga in 1991. This reboot however attempts to establish a new storyline by setting its plot in an alternate universe yet it’s so overly occupied with referencing the first two classics of its franchise that it completely forgets to create its own identity that may have made it compelling on at least some level. Taylor’s direction is a failure for he doesn’t bring any interesting dimension into the story and offers nothing that we haven’t seen before. The screenplay brings back the memorable characters of the franchise but ends up making them all the more lifeless, thanks to its insipid handling of their arcs, bland dialogues & lazy attempts at humour. Its technical aspects aren’t even worthy of any mention for it neither enhances the experience nor adds something substantial to the story.
Coming to the acting department, Terminator Genisys features an unstable cast in Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, Jason Clarke, Matt Smith, J.K. Simmons & Lee Byung-hun, with all of them disappointing in their given roles. It’s definitely good to see Schwarzenegger back in action but both him & his eponymous character are getting too old to continue this ride with same zeal they once did and need to be written out. Sure it’s almost impossible to imagine a Terminator film without Schwarzenegger but what the writers have done with T-800 here is too painful to watch and if this is any indication, it’s only going to get worse in future instalments. Emilia Clarke takes the coveted role of Sarah Connor but she is no Linda Hamilton. Courtney plays the dim-witted version of Kyle Reese. Jason Clarke is unconvincing as John Connor and absolutely fails to pull off whatever transition his character undergoes in the story. But the biggest atrocity committed here is casting Lee Byung-hun, one of Asian cinema’s finest actors, and keeping him mute throughout his already brief screen time!
On an overall scale, Terminator Genisys is undeniably an awful sequel & another lacklustre entry in the Terminator series plus its desperate attempt to resurrect a fallen franchise with its defective story & cardboard characters falls flat. What’s even more infuriating is that it features two of the most iconic villains in cinema history into its narrative but turns both of them into mere caricatures for neither T-800 nor T-1000 manages to be even remotely intimidating at any given time in this story. The plot itself is entangled in so many paradoxes that it has no idea of how to get out of its convoluted mess, the characters are very poorly written and the cast adds in no extra effort to make any of them stand apart, its CGI-laden action sequences are nothing but empty spectacles that are rendered useless by the film’s extreme lack of characterisation, due to which one never really gives a damn about these characters or the peril they find themselves in. One more addition in the long list of mindless blockbusters that surface on the big screen during the summer season, Terminator Genisys lacks all the ingredients that made the original such an enduring classic and is definitely amongst the worst movies to come out this year. Best if you try to forget that this ever happened!