If any remaining proof of Hollywood’s creative bankruptcy should be required, the more-is-less Terminator: Genisys should put the issue to bed once and for all. An all-out assault on both the senses and storytelling, this overblown mess of a movie appropriates entire chunks of James Cameron’s 1984 classic before collapsing on itself with Escher-esque convolutions that should have been scrapped at the first draft.
Directed by Alan Thomas (Game of Thrones) from a screenplay by Patrick Lussier (Drive Angry) and Letitia Kalgorides (Shutter Island), the new installment, no surprise, is bereft of character, motivation, originality and all things good in a movie, yet rich with numbing computer generated effects and high-concept plotting so ludicrous that after a while you find your brain on autopilot, much like this film.
By now everyone knows that John Connor (Jason Clarke) is humankind’s savior, the great and future warrior who will battle the machines that have taken over the world, a typically bleak, burnt-out apocalypse ruled by an OS named Genisys. And everyone also knows that Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) is sent from that future back to the past to protect Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), the mother of that ferocious son.
And of course, everyone also knows The Terminator himself, the T-800 cyborg series robot in the role that made Arnold Schwarzenegger a movie star. He’s back this time, used mainly for brawn and comic effect as “Pops,” the now protector of Sarah Connor who looks every bit his 67 years and for which the film manufactures a bogus explanation. And keeping with the bigger is better philosophy of this installment, there’s another version of Arnold as well, so they can, you know, fight each other Jurassic World T-Rex style after which they take on time-traveling John Connor himself in another calculated twist guaranteeing we have absolutely no one to root for by the third act.
There is zero chemistry between the leads, doing their best to eradicate the pluck of Linda Hamilton and stoicism of Michael Biehn. Clarke, a wan, waifish, overly-made-up doll has neither the physical or vocal authority for the role, and Courtney comes off as an emasculated whiner content to let his pecs do the talking. As in typical, contemporary Hollywood fashion, both have been selected for their looks, both are overconfident and deliver the most obvious reads, both unable to show convincing vulnerability and both required to get naked several times. Why were they hired, again? Right. There is simply nothing going on there worth caring about.
Jason Clarke, on the other hand, does what he can with this installment’s nonsensical version of John Connor, required by the “surprising” narrative to twist in the wind as the plot dictates, and Oscar-winner J.K. Simmons shows up in a throwaway role as the wisecracking shrink from the first picture, now 30 years older and the only one trying to make sense of this nonsense.