out of Five
Running time: 130
Watchable franchise entry that scrapes a pass on the strength of its terrific central set-piece and a couple of the performances, but it's poorly written, emotionally unengaging and a largely empty experience overall.
What's it all about?
Directed by McG, Terminator Salvation is the fourth film in the Terminator franchise and, apparently, the first in a new trilogy. It opens with a 2003 prologue, in which Death Row prisoner Marcus (Sam Worthington) leaves his body to science (and cancer-stricken doctor Helena Bonham Carter) before flashing forward to 2018, where Judgement Day has come to pass, Los Angeles is destroyed and a group of rebels led by John Connor (Christian Bale) is engaged in a full-on war against the machines.
After waking up in 2018, Marcus hooks up first with resourceful teenager Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) and then sexy stranded pilot Blair (Moon Bloodgood) before discovering, to his horror and everyone else's, that he's actually part machine. However, when Connor learns that Kyle (who's destined to become his father – keep up at the back
there) has been imprisoned at Skynet HQ, he teams up with Marcus in a desperate attempt to save him before the machines realise who he is.
First things first, the central set-piece with the big giant robot that's glimpsed in the trailer is truly spectacular and lasts for about ten minutes, incorporating thrilling high speed chases, zippy Terminator bikes and all manner of mayhem along the way. Acting-wise, Worthington and Yelchin are both excellent, but Bale is on growly autopilot throughout and the female characters (including a criminally under-used Bryce Dallas Howard) are given almost nothing to do.
The script is painfully underwritten (there's surprisingly little dialogue), with the result that Marcus' fate is robbed of any dramatic or emotional impact, while Connor is reduced to tedious moping for long stretches. Similarly, some of the scenes have severe continuity problems to the point where entire scenes seem to be missing and it's often difficult to tell what's going on.
Terminator Salvation is worth seeing for the impressive effects and the stunning set-pieces but that's literally all there is too it and it fails to engage on an emotional level. Disappointing.