Kyle Reese (Courtney) is sent to 1984 to save Sarah Connor (Clarke), and finds himself in a whole new timeline.
This latest extension to the Terminator brand boots up as an elaborate, affectionate remake: shot-for-shot recreations of James Cameron’s original supplemented by extensive ‘deleted scenes’ of future-history, with Jason ‘Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes’ Clarke as a scarred, speechifying John Connor. Then it mutates into a Back To The Future 2-style franchise remix, adding a T-1000 here (Lee Byung-hun), an 11-year-old T-800 there (Schwarzenegger, of course), and a Sarah Connor (Clarke) who’s turned into T2’s heavy-calibre amazon almost a decade too early. So far, so fine. It’s hefty on the winks to the fanbase, while Jai Courtney is too buff and bland to prove a truly worthy substitute to Michael Biehn’s desperate, wiry Kyle Reese, but it coasts well enough on its familiarity.
Next, our heroes hop into a jerryrigged time-machine and travel from 1984 to 2017, when Skynet has become a “killer app” (oh please) named Genisys and they have to prevent Judgment Day 2.0. From here, the film tumbles down an alpine slope of diminishing quality — and it wasn’t exactly hitting the peaks to begin with.
Perhaps it could have earned more goodwill by not blowing its central twist in the trailers. Director Alan Taylor handles the big action adeptly as he did in Thor The Dark World, but the script is an ever-decreasing cycle of tool-ups, chase sequences and daft monologues.
Even the visual effects are a mixed bag. You’ll veer from wondering how on Earth they recreated Arnold ’84 so photorealistically, to yawning your way through a helicopter chase scene so bereft of physics you might as well be watching G.I. Joe. Or a drooling child bash toy robots together.
A mid-credits sting promises more to come, but that’s investing too much confidence in a series which has always taught us that “the future is not set”...
Part remake, part remix, part sequel. But it doesn’t add up to a worthy successor for the James Cameron originals.