Terminator Salvation Review: Not Even Close to Salvaging a Series

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There is a bit of unintended irony in the title of McG’s latest action debacle entitled Terminator Salvation, the newest installment of the Terminator series that just doesn’t seem to die, since this film has no qualities that could salvage it from utter science-fiction nonsense. Sure there is a plethora of action sequences that seem to numb the senses rather than engage the mind to follow the progression of the story, but the entire film ends up feeling as if you’re caught in the middle of a really long video game segment, yet it’s no fun mostly because you have no control over it. With it’s over stylized action, it’s horrid character development flaws, and a convoluted story that can’t even be pieced together to be made sense of Terminator Salvation is another example of why action directors with no sense of story, such as McG, shouldn’t be allowed behind the camera.

Most audiences take great pleasure in films that have excessive amounts of fast paced action sequences, and if you’re one of these people who could care less about a tightly layered story than this film will certainly have enjoyable moments. However, the action is so completely stylized that it comes off as more of a dance rather than being immersed into the foray of what is impending doom. Rather the camera and its subjects tango throughout the scenes, mostly the camera leading its actors. This isn’t to say that not all of the sequences are dull, some are quite impressive, especially a beginning segment involving running, a helicopter crash, and fighting a terminator, all taking place in one shot. But if ninety-percent of your film is pummeling action and the exposition gets no worth while attention, then your action segments are nothing but nice looking works of effort rather than a piece to your accomplishment as an action film.

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If the action sequences didn’t seem fake enough it’s really the acting that will have you writhing in your seat. Christian Bale, known for incredible work ranging from The Machinist to Kenneth Branaugh’s Henry V, couldn’t be less interesting or putting an infinitesimal effort into his performance. Bale as the supposed lead John Conner makes it incredibly hard to distinguish what is man and what is machine, since his more fascinating counterpart Marcus Wright, played simply yet fairly well by Sam Worthington, seems to have more emotion being a robot than Conner does at being human. And don’t scream foul if you haven’t seen the movie that I’ve revealed that Sam Worthington’s character is a machine, because that is evident to the audience long before it ever becomes clear to his character. The supporting cast doesn’t have much to do, yet they try and re-create that Sarah Conner femme fatale-esque action persona in the character of Blair Williams, who is there more for her looks than her acting techniques.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that McG couldn’t handle the depth and the relevance the Terminator predecessors had, excluding the third of course although that one is in some regards better than this new installment amazingly enough, considering that his other action projects were the ridiculous and brain cell killing Charlie’s Angels films. The story, in all of its attempts to appear that it has a direction or even the slightest bit complex, is laughable because any audience member with a brain will feel like a prophet guessing what will happen next and how exactly it will happen. This installment fails extraordinarily in attempting to explain why John Conner has been special throughout the original series for we could really care less for this mediocre and unemotional soldier. Apart from the fragmented attempts at a character arc, there is also the beyond ridiculous moments of the story that will have you asking questions relating to the machine’s targeting abilities, that seem to be worse than the humans, and why the machine’s are collecting humans in droves instead of just killing them immediately. The ludicrous story progression couldn’t be more flawed and the entire film suffers from this lack of ingenuity and careful writing foresight.

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Again we have an example of how the summer blockbuster refuses to integrate credibility and quality, sacrificing it for a mediocre action extravaganza. However, the poor acting, the ridiculous story, and the uneven character arc is extremely noticeable and results in an unfulfilling movie experience, that only has action to offer. And again, if you could care less for a good story, or were not familiar with the original science-fiction gems that were the first two Terminators then this will probably be a guilt-free action adventure. But the Terminator series calls for more, an in depth and relevant science-fiction post-apocalyptic message, a riveting protagonist that is deserved of saving in the originals, and gritty, not stylized, action sequences that accentuate the atmosphere and not counteract it.

Grade: D+/C-

One Response to “Terminator Salvation Review: Not Even Close to Salvaging a Series”
  1. Patrick says:

    I agree completely with this review. One of the worst $10 I’ve spent all year went to buying a ticket to see this “film” McG should have his credentials revoked.

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