Anthony's Film Review
Terminator Salvation (2009)
Despite good action, the plot of the fourth Terminator movie leaves more to be desired...
The first three Terminator movies involve variations of the same core plot. A supercomputer called Skynet will become self-aware and work to annihilate the human race with its deadly killer robots and other machines with heavy weaponry. But it faces the threat of human survivors forming a resistance group, led by John Connor. To have the upper hand in this battle, Skynet sends back a killer cyborg, a Terminator, to eliminate Connor before he ever survives to the future. The three movies have involved attempts to terminate Sarah Connor, the mother of John Connor, or John Connor himself. With Terminator Salvation, the fourth in the series, the apocalyptic future is now here. Finally, we have a Terminator movie that focuses on the battle between Connor and Skynet, not simply prophecizes it.
At least, that is the plot I expected. After all, if the first three Terminator movies were about the struggle between all-powerful technology and vulnerable humans, it would make sense for the fourth to do the same. It is true that there are Skynet machines in this movie, including a few with designs never before seen, like a giant robot and unmanned motorcycles, and the character of John Connor is here as a leader for the human resistance, with Christian Bale playing the role of Connor. In fact, the character of Kyle Reese from the first Terminator movie is also here. But my main complaint about this movie is that much of the plot actually centers on a third set of characters.
The prologue of Terminator Salvation introduces Sam Worthington as Marcus Wright, a murderer who, in the year 2003, is on death row but accepts an offer to donate his body to scientific research instead. We see this character again after a few early scenes of Skynet versus Connor. And from that point on, much of the movie centers on Wright together with Kyle Reese and other human characters who are not part of the human resistance. As a result, Terminator Salvation feels less like a Terminator movie and more like a generic apocalyptic sci-fi movie, with John Connor practically relegated to secondary character status.
Now, to be fair, the purpose of the Wright character becomes clear towards the end, and things do seem to come together. But it's not enough to save the movie. The plot does not feel like a well-developed story. On top of that, there are a couple of other issues I had with Terminator Salvation. For example, some of the acting isn't as well done as one would expect for a movie like this. I'm not talking about Christian Bale, because he's all right here, but rather I'm referring to some of the supporting cast. Then there's the look of the action scenes. I can understand that some deadly conflicts between Skynet and humanity take place in the day, but I couldn't help but feel that the tone of the action is nowhere near as dark as in the first two Terminator movies.
As much as director McG has tried to present a Terminator story that fits in with the series, I'm afraid to say that this one doesn't. It's a movie that doesn't live up to any hype that the earlier Terminator movies would create. In other words, you expect some epic conflict between Skynet and Connor, only to find that it doesn't come even close. Arnold Schwarzenegger, star of the first three Terminator movies, does not star in Terminator Salvation, and it would make no difference if he did. Without a good script that presents solid plotting and character development, nothing else really matters.
For more information about Terminator Salvation, visit the Internet Movie Database.
In addition, check out my reviews of the following:
The Terminator Films