Written by John Brancato and Michael Ferris and directed by McG, Terminator Salvation is one for the history books, to be listed under major fiascos of the film industry. It seems to have set itself to compete with Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines in terms of busted potential.
The plot is set in 2018, after the occurrence of Judgment Day, during which the software Skynet destroyed most humans in a Nuclear Holocaust until only ragged scraps of humanity, called the Resistance, remain fighting the machines.
The story begins with John Conner (Christian Bale) discovering plans for creating a new terminator using living tissue during an attack led by him on a Skynet base. As he returns to the Resistance headquarters- a nuclear submarine- to report the matter he is told of the discovery of a frequency of waves that can disable the Skynet machines. He is also informed that he has been blacklisted by Skynet and is being hunted by terminators. However the person that figures topmost among the people Skynet wishes to eradicate is not him but a human named Kyle Reese. The tapes left to him by his deceased mother Sarah Conner had already revealed to John that Kyle Reese was his father, and that he sends him back in time himself to save his mother. Realizing the importance of keeping Reese alive Conner thwarts authority and attempts to save him from the Skynet base where he is kept prisoner. To this end he enlists the help of a bio-machine Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) for whom he initially entertained deep suspicions which are nevertheless overridden by Marcus’s assertion that he believes himself to be human. The culminating scene is the clichéd escape from mad killer machines and the movie itself ends with John Conner telling the Resistance that though the battle may be won, the war was far from over; a chilling threat of more Terminator flicks to come.
The plot is shallow, vague and full of inconsistencies. The form of narration doesn’t spark interest and the sequence of events is cluttered and confusing. For those unfamiliar with the Terminator series the story remains entirely incomprehensible while for Terminator fans it is an insult. The brief appearance of Arnold Schwarzenegger as homage to the previous movies only causes the disparity between them to be felt more strongly. The only saving grace of the movie would be the cinematic and sound effects. The movie packs a punch in terms of violence alone, since rarely a minute goes by without some spectacular explosion. However although the resounding booms and showers of fire are entertaining in themselves, without a strong storyline to pull them together they become meaningless and ridiculous. Hence the violence and action sequences seem to lack the zest and intensity of the first two movies and seem washed out by comparison.
Cloaked in ambiguity and trying to make up for plot holes with meaningless violence, the movie is rendered even more unbearable due to uninspired acting. Christian Bale is boring even when wrestling with berserk terminators and the supporting cast is inconsequential. The only actor to make his presence felt is Sam Worthington though even he is hampered by a poor script and insipid co-actors.
The movie doesn’t even have the panache to be BAD, it is merely annoying. Only people crazed by the Terminator franchisee will have something good to say about it. Perhaps the fact that it is a Terminator movie is good enough for some viewers, but for those who value sense over sentimental hysteria it would be best to give the latest addition to the Terminator Saga a wide berth.