James Cameron’s 1984 science fiction classic, “The Terminator,” blended the perfect touches of comedy, action and characters to become one of the best offerings in the genre. It not only solidified Arnold Schwarzenegger as one of the top action film stars on the planet; it also spawned sequels, a TV show, books and lines of toys.
It would seem like an act of insanity to attempt a reboot of the franchise with so many accolades going for it. Thank goodness director Alan Taylor (“Thor: The Dark World”) is a little bit crazy. His “Terminator Genisys” not only dares to reset the hugely popular film but manages to ramp it up multiple notches.
“Terminator Genisys” opens Wednesday, July 1
The Terminator — as promised — is back and it is a fun, exciting thrill ride that makes it one of the best action movies of the year. All you have to do is forget trying to decipher the time traveling elements because, as always, the very familiar sci-fi gimmick always creates more questions than answers.
And, a few of the questions are massive.
What’s clear is that John Connor (Jason Clarke) has once again sent Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back from a future where robots have almost wiped out the human race. His mission is to save Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), the woman who would give birth to John, the one person who can lead a rebellion against the robots.
Here’s where “Genisys” takes a time turn. Instead of Reese having to save Sarah from the Terminator (Schwarzenegger), the killer robot has been guarding Sarah since she was 9. This sets a completely different timeline in motion where a universal program under the control of Skynet will prove disastrous if allowed to launch.
The action bounces through the years from one massive car chase/gun battle to another. Taylor kicks the film into high gear at the very start and never takes his foot off the gas.
Unlike “Mad Max Fury Road,” Taylor weaves in a strong story with all of the action to make his characters seem real and not just faceless pawns in a major battle for survival. It also outdoes “Jurassic World” especially in the area of strong female characters. Emilia Clarke’s work is as tough and strong as the performance Linda Hamilton turned in when she originated the role.
Laced throughout the film are incredible special effects including a scene where a young Schwarzenegger goes toe-to-toe with an older version of himself. Give Schwarzenegger credit for being able to bring the same muscle and mirth to the role as he did more than 30 years ago. His opening sequence sets the tone for all of the visual effects to come.
There are some plot twists that can’t be revealed. Suffice to say, they just add to the excitement as they are slowly revealed.
It was a major gamble to re-launch a franchise that was already so good and revered. Taylor succeeds by bringing a smart story to life through masterful visual effects and teeth-jarring action.
“Terminator Genisys” is the best re-launch of a solid-gold franchise since J.J. Abrams kick-started “Star Trek.” Here’s hoping the director and cast will all be back for more films.
This movie opens Wednesday, July 1.
- Rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence, partial nudity, language
- Stars: Jai Courtney, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, J.K. Simmons
- Directed by Alan Taylor
- Running time: 119 minutes