Terminator Salvation is a pre-sequel (or is it a se-prequel) to the previous three movies in the Terminator series. Atrocious writing, shoddy effects and lackluster acting made me wonder why they bothered to make Terminator Salvation at all.
Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) is recruited by Dr. Serena Kogan (Helena Bonham Carter) while on death row to be part of a mysterious experiment. Years later, Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) and Star (Jadagrace) are leading the Los Angeles branch of The Resistance. John Connor (Christian Bale) survived the near complete genocide of humanity perpetrated by machines and has become the prophesized leader of the resistance. He and the real leaders of the resistance find out about a weakness in the machines that might end the war forever.
I am all for using action to drive a story, but Terminator Salvation uses action as a plot substitute. It is nothing more than director McG’s excuse to blow IT up. What is IT? Well, airplanes, machines, convenience stores, children, kittens, flies, unwed mothers, dirt, fuzz, whales, ants, microbes and grilled cheese sandwiches. Anything in McG’s eyeline was dynamite fodder.
Nearly two thirds of the movie is something fighting, exploding or being chased, and almost all of those are created by computer. The light color, direction and shadow are so off kilter that the CG is so painfully obvious that suspending disbelief is nearly impossible. It is obvious that McG is using action to distract the audience from story.
If the plethora of substandard explosions weren’t bad enough, when Terminator Salvation gets around to the plot, I wished McG would make suicide bombers of the characters. John Connor’s entire motivation in the movie is to save himself, because he is the most important person in the world. He’s willing to sacrifice nearly everyone because he’s convinced of his own self-importance.
He doesn’t just sacrifice people, but tosses equipment around like it’s valueless. There are fighter jet crashes, helicopter crashes, and even more expensive war crafts. In a time when people probably couldn’t remake these things, it would be important to preserve them as well as their pilots.
The writers, John D. Brancato and Michael Ferris, rely heavily on the previous movies for character development and don’t bother to attempt any development of their own. There are implications about the characters made through visual cues, but they are left as elephants in the room instead of being addressed. In the beginning of the movie, one of the characters doesn’t know what’s happened to the world, and the other characters in the scene don’t seem bothered by this obvious problem.
Moreover, there are lines that are so senseless as to be downright boggling. For example: “If the machines are a problem for you….” If? IF? IF! The whole movie is about how the machines are trying to wipe out humanity. The only humans who don’t have a problem with the machine are the corpses of the dead. Ironically, the corpses are the most likely to enjoy the acting in Terminator Salvation.
Christian Bale used his whisper voice through most of Terminator Salvation. When he whispers, he sounds like he’s smoked ten too many cigarettes. The rest of the characters seem like they are trying to act while doing their beginning karate class. Everything herks, jerks and the momentary action is a distraction from acting.
I was looking forward to an action movie with just enough plot to justify the action. Unfortunately, all I got was enough free testosterone to grow a mustache. For the next week, I’ll be shaving Terminator Salvation off my face.