Since the T2 high-point, the Terminator franchise has experienced ups and downs, arguably with more misses than hits.
This time round, whilst the plot is largely a retread of previous movies, the old gang is back, at least “Sarah Connor” (Linda Hamilton), “T-800/Carl” (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and fleetingly via CGI, “John Connor” (Edward Furlong).
The action moves from South of the US border via some impressive car based stunt scenes, with a classic shot of Sarah Connor using a bazooka to slow the latest Terminator threat down, albeit only briefly.
Clearly the future is constantly improving it’s Terminators. The new model “Gabriel/Rev-9” (Gabriel Luna) makes for a formidable foe. Able to absorb any injury, use molten liquid to reform and in a new twist, separate his exoskeleton into a “mini-me” Terminator as required, double the threat.
Essentially, the story is as before, target acquired, target attempts to escape using whatever assistance is available from the current day or teleported from the future.
However, by definition the Terminator never stops and cannot be destroyed, despite the hi-tech weaponry on display. This is essentially the series point of difference, everyone fears a enemy that can never be stopped, never shows mercy and has no care for any collateral damage to people or infrastructure.
Hamilton manages to add some much needed gravitas, there is no question the film is better with her character in the story. Schwarzenegger is looking his age and comes across tired and more as a gentle comic relief, which actually suits the story.
David and Reyes are fine, both coming in cold to an existing franchise is never going to be easy but they perform as well as you would expect. Luna makes for a steely eyed almost monosyllabic Terminator as lore demands, albeit spending more time in CGI form than physical presence.
Overall, this is a surprising return to form and proves very entertaining albeit a rerun of previous films. The action sequences are well staged and the balance of humour to violence is about right, a film which arguably deserved a better audience response.
However, the film was largely ignored at the box office, which suggests that audiences have tired of this premise. Let’s hope the famous “I’ll be back” will not eventuate as clearly this story thread has run it’s course.
Interestingly watching a “effects reel” demonstrates how stunts are massively CGI augmented, yet are blended seamlessly into the action. Good for health and safety, not so good for stunt people perhaps.
One of the better Terminator outings and if you are looking for a well acted, well staged action film, this is well worth two hours of your time.
Switch off, kick back and forget the timeline or overarching story thread, as the writers have lost all hope of tying the various story strands together.
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