Strong But No Cigar And Way Off At That

Terminator Genisys (2015) 
A Review By Ben Hunter
3 Out Of 5 Stars


In an effort to say “I’ll be back”, passionately to eagerly await the next installment … cast actors who can actually act!


It is the future, 2029, and artificial intelligence is superior to humans.  Our hope is all but dim in “the resistance” led by John Connor (Jason Clarke).  His right hand man, Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) volunteers to stop the artificial intelligence known as Skynet from going back in time to prevent the resistance from ever forming, by protecting the birth of Connor himself.  

It is the past, 1984, and Kyle meets John’s mother Sarah (Emilia Clarke) and her guardian, “Pops” (Arnold Schwarzenegger).  Pops is a terminator, a machine disguised as human to terminate us with easier of ease.  Though Pops was programmed differently.  

This, amongst the loyalty of other resistance members, the infiltration of Skynet in now the future, 2017, throughout all of mankind’s technology under the disguise of the program “Genisys”, are what Kyle must learn if he wants a future for himself and for the rest of us!

Arnie’s back!  To solidify his return, it only seems right to add another installment of his most popular franchise.  It also seems right to pick up the pieces from what Christian Bale & Sam Worthington left us with, Salvation, the last Terminator movie.  

By now, I’m used to Schwarzenegger, his acting abilities, the type of movies to expect with his name association, it is what it is and I’m okay with it.  There is a level of respect and appreciation for him to have released his film history and to be entertained by the average story he’s journeyed us through.  I wish I could feel a similar appreciation in a beginning effort for his co-stars of this film.

Emilia Clarke & Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator Genisys
We’re fighting the machines with our beloved Terminator and his two younger warriors, Emilia & Jai, both of them I thought were completely terrible as “hasta la vista” deems the appropriate response here in the franchise.  Emilia Clarke is supposed to be the co-star to share the sun with popular character of the film as she’s all over the marketing.  So I expected more from her, and as an actor I could feel her will and her passion to give a meaningful performance, a girl who feels she has no destiny and just wants a life of her own but can’t jeopardize the mission for one slip could be it for us humans, I get it, I just didn’t feel it. This may very well be a thoroughly and nicely cooked steak, just the way I like it ... but I ordered the chicken.  I felt a strong arrow missing the mark with all of the intensity and intent of a bullseye from the archer.  Just way off the mark, but very forcefully reaching the mark it did reach.  Strong but no cigar, and way off at that.  

This was Jai Courtney’s story though, however the marketing would suggest otherwise.  So if any real casting work would need to be done, it’s with his character.  As with his performance in the latest Die Hard film franchise, this was no different.  TV movie caliber acting, again and again until the desperate need for change is recognized.

I liked seeing Jason Clarke in a different capacity than his criticized “too perfect” role in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014), a critique I thoroughly disagree with.  Though here in Terminator, I wasn’t impressed at the same time.  

At least with Arnie I know what to expect and I’m still thoroughly entertained at the same time.  But delivery of the characters alone is only part of what makes a great story.  However, it’s a shame that that’s primarily what I could focus on here.  I guess it helped to mask the so so writing, the destruction of the Golden Gate bridge from its recovery a month earlier with San Andreas (2015), and the eager-ness of actors trying to “make it big” thus taking away jobs from much more deserving actors who don’t even get a chance to be told no who could’ve knocked this story out of the ballpark and given me the time of my life.  Unexpectedly blowing me away with the new Terminator movie when I walked in expecting mediocrity.  

Terminator Genisys 
Action & Adventure, 126 Minutes, PG-13
Based on Characters Created by: James Cameron & Gale Anne Hurd
Screenplay by: Laeta Kalogridis & Patrick Lussier
Directed by: Alan Taylor
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Clarke, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, Byung-hun Lee, Courtney B. Vance, & J.K. Simmons

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