Terminator Genisys review

Alan Taylor
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Jason Clarke
Emilia Clarke
Jai Courtney

“Terminator Genisys” is the fifth installment of the evil machine franchise, however, this movie largely ignores the events of the third and fourth films.

“Genisys” starts off in the late future with the leader of the human resistance John Connor (Jason Clarke) finding out that the machine program Skynet has sent a terminator back to 1984 to kill his mother Sarah (Emilia Clarke). To stop the terminator, John sends Kyle Reese (Courtney) back in time also to bring the machine down.

Up until this point, the plot mirrors that of the original “Terminator.” The similarities end, there, though, not only because this film lacks any of the suspense of the original, but also because it turns out, Sarah has been aware of Skynet since her childhood and has her own Guardian terminator (Schwarzenegger).

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: A character with the last name Connor has to team up with a terminator played by Arnold Schwarzenegger to try and stop the launch of Skynet and the attack of the machines. If that sounds familiar, it should, since it was already the plot of the phenomenal “Terminator 2” and the below average “Terminator 3.”

For all of the faults people find with the fourth film in the series, “Terminator Salvation,” it can at the very least be looked at as a new path for the franchise.

“Terminator Genisys” simply comes off as more of the same. The main conflict of the film is Sarah and Kyle along with the Guardian terminator trying to stop Skynet and being chased by an evil robotic character while doing so. It’s been done before and done better.

That’s not to say there’s nothing that works in the film’s story. There are some interesting time travel elements that, like most time travel movies, makes a person think. But that’s about the extent of anything interesting “Genisys” has to offer.

The film didn’t have much in its performances either. First and foremost, Jai Courtney just doesn’t deliver as Kyle Reese. In the original, when Reese was played by Michael Biehn, the character was committed and determined to fulfill his mission, but also desperate, saddened and scared due to the state of the world he grew up in.

Courtney simply doesn’t bring that type of character to the screen. More often than not he has banter with characters, mainly Sarah, and comes across as just a standard action hero rather than a tortured person who has been through hell.

Speaking of Sarah, Emilia Clarke does try to channel Linda Hamilton’s memorable performance, yet at times it just doesn’t come off as convincing. This may have been more of a result of what she had to work with, though, since there weren’t many moments where her character wasn’t getting into a shouting match with Kyle.

Surprisingly, the best performance of the film comes from the legend, Schwarzenegger. Arnold knows how to play the terminator and he has a likability which results in solid delivery and believability on screen.

Two areas where the movie delivers some goods is the standard popcorn flick criteria. It has some solid humor and some nice action sequences. The laughs and thrills make the movie entertaining, at least, but don’t do much more.

The original two “Terminator” films were more than just summer action films, they were cautionary sci-fi tales, the first one frighteningly so. “Genisys” almost feels more like a generic comic book movie with wearing a Terminator mask. Schwarzenegger has good moments, though, and the action and humor is enough to keep a person interested, somewhat. 2 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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