We’ve waited nearly 25 years to get a decent follow-up to James Cameron’s first two Terminator masterpieces – AND we’re, erm… still waiting.
This fifth instalment in the once-coveted franchise deserves plaudits for trying to take the series in a different direction – but it simply doesn’t work.
Sadly ‘Genisys’ pales in comparison to the ho-hum offering of 2003’s ‘Rise of the Machines’ and 2009’s much-maligned ‘Salvation’ – and this (kinda) reboot discards these last two efforts.
Leader of the human resistance, John Connor (Jason Clarke), sends Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back to the period of the original Terminator movie, to protect Sarah Connor (Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke) and safeguard the future, as the war against Skynet’s machines rages in 2029.
But when Reese arrives in 1984, it’s nothing like the time we know and love from Cameron’s original, but an alternate universe where a reprogrammed T-800 model (Arnold Schwarzenegger), known as the Guardian, was sent back to protect Sarah when she was nine – thus fracturing the past as we know it – and set a trap for a liquid metal, shape-shifting, T-1000 (Byung-hun Lee).
After a heated time travelling debate between Sarah, who wants to go to 1997 to take out Skynet before it’s activated, and Kyle, who thinks 2017 is the better option due to a memory he has to stop a program called Genisys (Miles Dyson’s app that will control all technology), that will actually be Skynet’s ticket to human devastation on this current time line.
Oh, and to throw a spanner in the works, this new time line (they opt for a San Francisco-set 2017 in the end) has turned John Connor into a devastatingly advanced terminator, that wants Sarah and Kyle to join Skynet’s revolution . . . or die. And Oscar winner JK Simmons (Whiplash) hasn’t even been mentioned, as he’s sorely underused and given an ultimately inconsequential role, which is a travesty.
If this sounds underwhelming, it really is, despite the best efforts of Schwarzenegger (who does at least feel at home in his role with some nice comedic touches), Courtney (who’s kind of likeable), and both Clarkes – even though both Emilia (who looks too fresh-faced in her failed attempts to emulate Linda Hamilton’s bad-ass Sarah from T2) and Jason (a million miles away from what an older Ed Furlong is expected to look like) both seem sorely miscast.
Despite some noteworthy special effects and a few flickers of past glories – like a 1984 computer-generated Arnie – this franchise will probably have to start all over again to repair this mess which is unnecessarily complex for its own good.
If you want to go back in time – listen to Genesis instead.
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Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, Jason Clarke, Jk Simmons, Courtney B Vance, Dayo Okeniyi, Byung-Hun Lee, Gregory Alan Williams, Sandrine Holt & Matt Smith
Running Time: 2 Hrs 6 Mins
Director: Alan Taylor