Terminator Salvation Lives Up to Expectations, Good and Bad

Ever since I saw the first trailer for Terminator Salvation I had mixed emotions. I wanted it to be good but I could not imaged how it could be. There are 25 years of history in this time traveling anthology. The series has used the time between movies as a plot device. We have seen John Connor grow up. The previous three movies have all played in the present. This fourth engagement starts with a flashback to just before the end of the third movie (5 years ago) and then flings us forward 15 years into our future.

We already know the future history of John Connor: he’s the leader of the resistance and the savior of mankind. This movie does not try to tell the whole story. It is simply telling us the genesis story of John Connor. Unlike the genesis story of Batman or Superman, everyone involved knows that John claims to be the future savior. Some believe him, some do not. We are not even sure if John believes it himself. In that way John is more like Matrix’s Neo.

The world in 2018 still has a human military infrastructure that seems to be led by a council of generals on a sub. We see Russian, Chinese, America, Arabic and Indian generals making decisions for all of mankind. As a plot point this means that this council has to be destroyed before John can rise. That is the purpose of this movie.

The story also serves to introduce Kyle Reese, who is as we know, John’s father. Kyle is just a teenager. That means this is probably 10 years before the first movie subjective to Kyle’s timeframe. We know that this movie is not going to end well.

The movie shows us the T-600s and T-800s. There’s an extended cameo by the governor of California in the form of a computer generated cyborg. I also like the variety of terminators that we get to see. They infect the water and the skys. They dominate the land. The motorcycle terminator are very cool. The action is right up with the other terminator films. We get the obligatory truck chase of course.

In the end the movie left me feeling like something was missing. I think the problem is that John Connor as portrayed by Christian Bale is too tough. Come on, he’s Batman. Sarah Conner in the first movie was frail and vulnerable. In the second movie she’s tough but John is weak. Even in the third movie, John is slight and has to use his mind more than his might. In the fourth movie John should have remained portrayed by an actor not know for his physical presence. Without that, it is hard to identify with him. Why would the military not naturally fawn over his charisma.

That was my complaint. It does not neutralize the virtues of the film. As a whole, the film works. It is superior to the third installment and fits nicely into a five movie series. By that I me I would like to see a fifth and final installation. In that move we would see the time traveling Arnolds and the eventual defeat of Skynet. I don’t want to see the series drag on for too many more movies. Just one more.

Leave a Reply