Terminator Salvation Review

Grim, grey palettes and an ensemble separated from one another with little reason, what a quick and horrid change of pace Terminator Salvation is compared to the previous instalment just six years before it. Grip the fun of the third instalment like it were the final days because that is the last film in the series to inspire any level of slight enjoyment. Even then, the confusion founded in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was on thin ice to begin with, the rest of the series is the scurrying fear of trying to break free from the depths. No such luck for Christian Bale and Sam Worthington, who don’t quite get to grips with the worldbuilding around them, or lack thereof. Even with simplicity and the fears of a new Terminator model, they struggle to figure out their place in an ever-changing landscape of miserable characters and poor twists.

Terminator Salvation holds quite an awful twist within it, and it is one that audiences should have picked up on if the writing were smarter and the action was more focused. Worthington’s expert precision should have made any sane director pause for thought, but McG doesn’t have the time for it. Despite Bale’s ability to yell and Worthington’s desire to look confused and robotic, Terminator Salvation is a wasted opportunity to expand on the Skynet-led world without Arnold Schwarzenegger’s involvement. Well, the first hour and twenty get away with it. You cannot have a Terminator film without The Terminator, and a damaging as that is to Terminator Salvation, it is no worse than the dense and foolish writing that prepped that inevitable encounter.

A passing of the torch does not occur. Bale is not the man for the job, nor is Worthington. It is not because they are bad performers but because the script for it is all over the place. The action is packed to the brim with the small issues that cropped up in previous instalments but were overlooked thanks to the strong story tying it all together. Make no mistake, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is packed with problems, but the stringent, straight-arrow storytelling of that feature is commendable because it relays the action while expanding the universe. That may have been a mistake, and in hindsight hurts Terminator Salvation more than anything. Trying to use the same characters from the series but in different times and periods is a harsh difficulty that this cast is not up to the task of changing.

How can these characters go about changing anything when the cold and unrelenting dullness of the series springs to the forefront? Schwarzenegger did well to keep those issues at bay during his tenure as The Terminator, but the dirt-covered heroes within Terminator Salvation are dull and fuelled by the problems and issues they have with one another. They are not resolved, just ignored. Anton Yelchin and Michael Ironside feature with vacant expressions, just happy to be a part of the history of the once great franchise. Bryce Dallas Howard and Helena Bonham Carter put in some solid work, but they are lost to the cold, metallic void this franchise would soon become.

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