James Cameron’s 1984 science fiction classic The Terminator blended the perfect touches of comedy, action and characters to become one of the best offerings in the genre. It would seem like an act of insanity to attempt a reboot of the franchise with so many accolades going for it. Thank goodness director Alan Taylor (Thor: The Dark World) is a little bit crazy. His Terminator Genisys not only dares to reset the hugely popular film but manages to ramp it up multiple notches.
All you have to do is forget trying to decipher the time-traveling elements because, as always, the very familiar sci-fi gimmick always creates more questions than answers. And a few of the questions are massive.
What’s clear is that John Connor (Jason Clarke) has once again sent Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back from a future where robots have almost wiped out the human race. His mission is to save Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke, aka Daenerys Targaryen on Game of Thrones), the woman who would give birth to John, the one person who can lead a rebellion against the robots.
Here’s where Genisys takes a time turn. Instead of Reese having to save Sarah from the Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger), the killer robot has been guarding Sarah since she was nine. This sets a completely different time line in motion where a universal program under the control of Skynet will prove disastrous if allowed to launch.
The action bounces through the years from one massive car chase/gun battle to another. Emilia Clarke’s work is as tough and strong as the performance Linda Hamilton turned in when she originated the role.
Laced throughout the film are incredible special effects, including a scene where a young Schwarzenegger goes toe-to-toe with an older version of himself. Give Schwarzenegger credit for being able to bring the same muscle and mirth to the role as he did more than 30 years ago. His opening sequence sets the tone for all of the visual effects to come.
It was a major gamble to relaunch a franchise that was already so good and revered. Taylor succeeds by bringing a smart story to life through masterful visual effects and teeth-jarring action. Terminator Genisys is the best relaunch of a solid-gold franchise since J.J. Abrams kick-started Star Trek. Here’s hoping the director and cast will all be back for more films.
Cast: Jai Courtney, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, J.K. Simmons.
Director: Alan Taylor.
Screenwriters: Laeta Kalogridis, Patrick Lussier.
A Paramount Pictures release. Running time: 125 minutes. Vulgar language, intense sci-fi violence, brief nudity. Playing at: area theaters.