Ter­mi­na­tor Genisys

Kyle be back

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Rated / Cinema - James Mottram

Re­lease Date: OUT NOW! 12A | 126 min­utes Di­rec­tor: Alan Tay­lor Cast: Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger, Emilia Clarke, Jason Clarke, Jai Court­ney, JK Sim­mons, Matt Smith

“Time travel makes my head hurt,” yells Kyle Reese, mid­way through the mind- bending Ter­mi­na­tor Genisys. He won’t be the only one. With an al­ter­nate timeline wip­ing out most of what you know about Skynet, Sarah Con­nor and those deadly Ter­mi­na­tors, this fifth in­stal­ment is easily the most head- scratch­ing of a fran­chise al­ready built on Möbius- strip logic. But, with the welcome re­turn of Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger, this Alan Tay­lor- di­rected ef­fort is a vast im­prove­ment on 2009’ s Ter­mi­na­tor Sal­va­tion and 2003’ s Ter­mi­na­tor 3: Rise Of The Ma­chines.

We be­gin with Reese ( Jai Court­ney) re­cap­ping: how de­fence pro­gram Skynet went sen­tient, how Judge­ment Day came in 1997, how the ma­chines took over, how the hu­mans fought back. The year is now 2029, and trusty lieu­tenant Reese vol­un­teers to time travel back to 1984 to pro­tect the fu­ture mother of John Con­nor ( Jason Clarke), leader of the re­sis­tance, af­ter Skynet sends a T- 800 Ter­mi­na­tor ( Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger, de- wrin­kled thanks to dig­i­tal trick­ery) back to kill her.

So far, so James Cameron – but that’s where the sim­i­lar­i­ties to the 1984 clas­sic end. When Reese ar­rives back in the mid-’ 80s ( naked, of course), things ain’t how you re­mem­ber them. For starters, John Con­nor’s mother Sarah ( Emilia Clarke) is well aware of the Ter­mi­na­tors, un­like Linda Hamil­ton’s Sarah in the orig­i­nal. She even has her own age­ing T- 800 ( Arnie, again) – or “Pops” as she calls him – to pro­tect her. Turns out he was sent back to 1973, when she was nine, to look af­ter her, stay­ing with her ever since.

While Sarah and Arnie’s T- 800 des­patch the younger Ter­mi­na­tor that’s come back through time, there’s another prob­lem: a shapeshift­ing T- 1000 ( I Saw The Devil’s Byung- hun Lee, who’s ex­cel­lent), even dressed as a cop to re­mind us of Robert Pa­trick’s liq­uid- me­tal Ter­mi­na­tor in Cameron’s 1991 barom­e­ter- set­ting T2. As the trio fight off the T- 1000, the first third is re­lent­less, play­ing out on free­ways and in cop shops, shop­ping malls and aban­doned fac­to­ries.

But then the plot re­ally thick­ens. The twist – or one of them – is that Genisys is re­ally Kyle Reese’s story. This time, the pro­tec­tor of Sarah Con­nor – who is sent back in time by her son John to ul­ti­mately fa­ther him – is hav­ing flash­backs to a sun­dap­pled past he never knew. In this timeline, Judge­ment Day never hap­pened. But Genisys will. “The ul­ti­mate killer app”, it’s a Skynet­spon­sored Tro­jan Horse, set to launch in 2017, to link all our gad­gets and leave users vul­ner­a­ble to at­tack.

Yet this doesn’t even be­gin to cover a plot so dense, even the trailer suc­cumbs to spoil­ers – hinted at early on when Matt Smith’s mys­tery man pops up to at­tack Jason Clarke’s John Con­nor as Reese is sent back to 1984. Thank heav­ens then for JK Sim­mons’s de­tec­tive, who brings some much- needed hu­mour to the “re­ally, re­ally com­pli­cated” story. Told, in sum­mary, that Reese and co are here to save the world, he quips: “I can work with that.”

What doesn’t work quite as well is the Arnie hu­mour, not least a tire­some run­ning gag where he tries to “blend in” by smil­ing. The oblig­a­tory “I’ll be back” line is ca­su­ally used and dis­missed, though this model prefers “bite me” as a sig­na­ture phrase. Bet­ter are the ref­er­ences to his age­ing ap­pear­ance; ex­plained with the idea that a Ter­mi­na­tor’s flesh ages just like a hu­man’s, it gives this T- 800 ( and the ac­tor be­hind him) a creaky look. “I’m old,” he says. “Not ob­so­lete.”

Sch­warzeneg­ger’s re­turn is vi­tal, of course, af­ter he was all- but­miss­ing in Ter­mi­na­tor Sal­va­tion, and his re­la­tion­ship with Sarah does pro­vide some emo­tional heft. Emilia

Easily the most head- scratch­ing of the fran­chise

Clarke is ex­cel­lent: ac­tion- adept and able to con­vey her at­tach­ment to­wards her “Pops” amid the con­stant rush of plot. Court­ney, too, is a wor­thy suc­ces­sor to Michael Biehn from the orig­i­nal ( a nice touch has him dress up in the same trench­coat and Nikes when he first ar­rives back in 1984).

In­deed, there are nu­mer­ous points when the script by Pa­trick Lussier and Laeta Kalo­gridis feels like a Ter­mi­na­tor Great­est Hits, as if the ear­lier movies have criss- crossed to­gether like the plot’s over­lap­ping time­lines. Is it smart meta- writ­ing? Or sim­ply rip­ping off the orig­i­nals? Ar­guably it’s both. But at least the script at­tempts some­thing brave; in a fran­chise where the time travel el­e­ment has al­ways been a Class A head- fuck, this is the big­gest of them all.

Thank­fully, Alan Tay­lor – as he did in Thor: The Dark World – proves ca­pa­ble of keep­ing this ten- ton jug­ger­naut of an ac­tion movie run­ning at full pelt. Whether it’s Arnie wind­screen- smash­ing, a school­bus som­er­sault­ing or the Golden Gate Bridge blow­ing, the ab­sorb­ing vi­su­als en­sure it’s al­most im­pos­si­ble to ques­tion the timeline shenani­gans mid- flow. The 3D is also un­ob­tru­sive, though hardly the film’s strong­est selling point.

Sadly, the fur­ther in you get the more Genisys ties it­self up in nar­ra­tive knots with a story that, at times, leaves you yearn­ing for the sim­plic­ity of Cameron’s orig­i­nal. The end­ing, in par­tic­u­lar, has one WTF mo­ment that lacks cred­i­bil­ity, even in this logic- de­fy­ing loopy uni­verse. Just be­cause time travel means you can go any­where, it doesn’t mean you can do any­thing. But by then, you’ll have most likely given in and just ac­cepted this as the barmi­est

Ter­mi­na­tor yet.

Good teeth are no sub­sti­tute for a nice per­son­al­ity.

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