REVIEW: ‘Terminator Salvation’

Cast:
Christian Bale
Sam Worthington
Moon Bloodgood
Helena Bonham Carter
Anton Yelchin
Rated: PG-13

“Terminator Salvation” is a pretty good action movie, just not the best “Terminator” movie.

The film follows a grown up John Conner (Bale), now a military officer in the human resistance against the machine army controlled by the Skynet program. Because Skynet is constructing new terminators, the battle for humans is even more uphill.

Meanwhile, there’s another character named Marcus (Worthington) who wakes up with no memory of the entire war and is trying to survive.

As stated in the lede, “Salvation” doesn’t work as a typical “Terminator” picture. Instead of a suspenseful ‘on the run’ thriller, the movie plays out much more like a war picture with two story threads happening. One following Marcus and the other with John.

In that sense, while at times a bit cliched, “Terminator Salvation” works as an entertaining action film. This is mainly thanks to the movie exploring something we largely haven’t seen before, the war against the machines itself. This aspect, looked at from the two lead characters’ perspectives, make things compelling.

However, the film’s pacing is far too slow for the movie to actually be memorable. While there are some fantastic scenes featured here, including a good convergence of the two story threads and a satisfying conclusion, the movie’s snail speed makes it feel dragged out.

In terms of characters, both lead actors get time to shine. Bale, for example, is solid as a John Conner who knows all about the future and is seen as a sort of icon in the movement, but still has to prove himself to the leaders of the resistance. Bale portrays his resolve of steel and his paranoia about Skynet.

Worthington, meanwhile, shows off the perfect newcomer to the series. His character is unsure of what’s going on, but he’s street smart, quick witted and resourceful. Worthington really pulls this off, playing an everyman who is quick on his feet.

A person who really snags the spotlight in many sequences, though, is the young Anton Yelchin. Playing a teen Kyle Reese, Yelchin has a surprising amount of screen presence and brought the right balance of war experience and youthful naivety.

Another highlight was the special effects that were really able to bring the machines and technology to life. There’s an especially great usage of CGI to bring back an old character in the third act.

“Salvation” isn’t as good as the first two pictures in the franchise, but it’s a major step up from the third movie. At its core, “Salvation” is a pretty straightforward action feature with solid characters. If the movie had a faster pace, it would have reached a higher rating. 3 out of 5.

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Author: Matthew Liedke

My name is Matthew Liedke. I'm a reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer in Minnesota, but I also have a passion for the art of film. This passion led me to start writing about film in 2008. From 2008-2016 I wrote pieces at my own website, After the Movie Reviews. Then, from 2016-May 2018, my write-ups were featured on AreaVoices, a blog network run by Forum Communications Company. Today, I now write film reviews and other pieces here on Word Press. More about me: I'm a 2012 graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead where I studied journalism and film. Outside of film, I enjoy sports, video games, anime and craft beers.

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