Christian Offers Salvation After Judgement Day
Watching the "Terminator" movies you go from the first two which were great, then a third movie which got far too close to be parodying and then "Terminator Salvation" which is different. It's different because it doesn't follow the rules of the first three movies, there's no time travelling, no protector sent back from the future and no single evil terminator to try and beat. Nope what we have is purely a storyline set in the future as the resistance fight to try and destroy Skynet. That doesn't mean there is no Terminator action as there is but in reality "Terminator Salvation" is more akin to a war movie between a rag bag bunch of resistance fighters and an evil empire. And to be honest I enjoyed it, the fact it didn't repeat the formula from the first 3 movies was a welcome change and whilst there are numerous issues which blight "Terminator Salvation", mainly being a bit disjointed, it works.
The year is 2018 and John Connor (Christian Bale - The Dark Knight), whilst not yet the leader of the resistance is a powerful voice within the organization with the respect of many of the fighters. When his superiors lead by General Ashwdown (Michael Ironside) decide to use a new weapon to try and bring Skynet down, Connor objects believing that something is wrong. At the same time Connor is concerned with his father to be, Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin - Fierce People), who he knows he must find and protect in order to send him back to the past. Reese is in fact leading a very small group of resistance fighters in LA when he meets the mysterious Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington - Avatar) who together along with a young girl Star (Jadagrace) try to make their way towards San Francisco. But when Reese gets captured, Marcus must try and find John Connor and convince him to trust him in order to save Reese.
One of the negatives about "Terminator Salvation" is that it all feels a little disjointed. The opening scenes are based in 2003 where we watch a criminal, Marcus, on death row basically agree to donate his body to help others and then it jumps to 2018 and post Judgement Day where we have the resistance fighters and John Connor battling Terminators and Skynet. That in itself isn't the problem, the problem arises from all the subplots which basically make up the first two thirds of the movie such as Marcus suddenly appearing and helping save Kyle Reese who is in LA, you have John Connor listening to tapes left by his mother and deliberating about what he should do knowing what he does. Plus there is General Ashdown who is set on destroying Skynet even when Connor warns him against his plan. It all ends up a little bit bitty and with other minor subplots also slotting themselves in it most certainly isn't a smooth movie.
Fortunately the final third pretty much brings everything together for one big climax which is full of action. What is good is that whilst this final third is action fuelled it throws some surprises at us, some which are quite good such as the mystery surrounding Marcus and some not so good such as a CGI Terminator which is painful. And it has to be said that the climax is far fetched, something which you shouldn't really criticise in what is a far fetched movie but it makes it laughable. Actually in fact there are numerous times throughout "Terminator Salvation" where it goes too far, be it being far fetched action or trying to deliver clever in jokes through the dialogue which end up sounding wrong.
As for the acting well it's solid but for the most unremarkable, probably down to the disjointed storyline. Christian Bale as John Connor does a reasonable job of a man trying to do what is right thanks to the knowledge he holds and Anton Yelchin is quite good at delivering that instinct style survival you expect from Kyle Reese. But whilst both of their performances are good as are those from Moon Bloodgood and Bryce Dallas Howard it is Sam Worthington as the mysterious Marcus who delivers the best performance. Worthington manages to make Marcus truly a mysterious man and whilst we may suspect something we're not sure, yet he also gives him character, aggressive but with a kind soul. And as such it is Worthington who you remember rather that Bale and Yelchin.
What this all boils down to is that "Terminator Salvation" isn't a bad movie and the fact it doesn't just run through the same old formula makes for a good change. It does suffer from being a little bit disjointed with too many subplots fighting for attention for the first two thirds but it all comes together for what is mostly a good climax. It does get cheesy and a little too far fetched but for me it is definitely better than "Terminator 3" and leaves the door open for another "Terminator" movie which is never a bad thing.