When Kyle Reese is sent back to 1984 to protect Sarah Connor, things aren't quite as he expected them to be. The timeline has been altered and the mission has changed.
The fifth film in the Terminator franchise attempts to shake things up a bit. The timeline has been re-worked as to remove the sins of previous sequels which fans deem unworthy, Genisys looks to do for Terminator what JJ Abrams' Star Trek did for that series. Terminator Genisys takes us back to the beginning...kind of. Starting in a not too distant future where the Resistance battles Skynet, John Connor and his allies have learned that Skynet plan to end this war before it even begins, by sending a Terminator back to 1984 to kill John's mother, Sarah. A close friend of Connor, Kyle Reese, volunteers to travel back in time to protect his mother from the T-800. But when he arrives in the past, Sarah and another T-800 have been awaiting his arrival. Instead of being a helpless waitress who needs saving, Sarah Connor is a strong, battle wary young woman, more akin to her T2 iteration. Completely aware of the impending Judgement Day and war with Skynet, Sarah's mission is to stop Judgement Day from ever happening, but during his travel back in time, Reese was informed that events have changed and Sarah's plan will no longer work.
Jai Courtney (Insurgent) stars as Kyle Reese, the Resistance soldier played by Michael Biehn in the original 1984 classic. Courtney has never managed to impress me in his films, whether that be A Good Day To Die Hard or Unbroken, his performance is always very bland but he was surprisingly quite good in Genisys, he had a much bigger role than I was anticipating and carried the film quite well. Emilia Clarke (Game Of Thrones) stars as Sarah Connor, Clarke is fine in her role but her performance felt more like a Linda Hamilton impression rather than a re-imagining of that iconic character. And of course, Arnold Schwarzenegger returns to his most iconic role as the T-800 now known as Pops, this T-800 model was sent to 1973 by an undisclosed individual, to raise and protect Sarah from Skynet's advances. Arnold is undoubtedly the best thing about Genisys, he is excellent in all of his action, most notably a one on one fight between him and his younger self and he also crushes the comedy which was more prominent than I was expecting. The role of the Terminator doesn't require much range but Arnold was actually very good in this film!
The father-daughter relationship between Sarah Connor and the T-800 is an integral reason of why Terminator Genisys works, his protectiveness and her admiration were both very believable. Schwarzenegger and Clarke had fantastic chemistry. A Terminator having a real relationship with someone is somewhat new to the franchise, it felt refreshing and it's a relationship I'd like to see tested a lot more in the inevitable sequels. Sarah and Kyle also had a great repartee with one another, these new iterations of the characters get a lot more time to get to know each other unlike Michael Biehn and Linda Hamilton in the original. The film has a surprising amount of heart to it, and this all stems from the relationships between the characters.
Terminator Genisys acts as a sequel to the first two Terminator's, never acknowledging the events that transpired in the two most recent sequels. The writers have done a good job of creating a very original Terminator story, one that uses time travel to a confusing extent at times but makes sense within the world we know and love.
The filmmakers know what we love and make great use of iconic moments from the first two films but with a twist. The initial fight between an aged T-800 and a newly arrived T-800 is great fan service and visually looked spectacular, jokes and callbacks to previous films are throughout this fifth installment. After a while some of these references feel forced but they're good fun for the most part.
The new villain introduced is one of this film's biggest strengths. The concept of transforming John Connor, a prophet like savior from the previous films, into the very thing he dedicated his life to fighting is certainly a great premise and the filmmakers pull it off. Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty) is good in the role, but I never quite bought him as the heroic leader of the Resistance, he felt more at home as the T-3000, the relentless machine that John is transformed into. The villainous scheme of Judgement Day is nothing we've not seen before, the idea is altered to fit today's technology obsessed world with Genisys being a new Operating System in which Skynet disguises itself as. The twist of completely flipping the character of John Connor was interesting and would have worked much more if it wasn't revealed in the trailers and posters for the film.
With time jumping, different enemies and perhaps one too many set pieces, Genisys often feels unfocused, the film provides a lot of interesting concepts and puts many of them to good use, but there is still much more to be explored in this new Terminator timeline. There are some noticeable unanswered questions brought up in this film that seem to be forgotten, the biggest of which being; Who sent the T-800 back to 1973? Perhaps that's a question that will be answered in a follow up. The comedy works well with the bombastic action, sometimes the two compliment each other, it's certainly a much more tonally consistent film than Terminator 3, and it's a lot more exciting that the overly dull Salvation.
Genisys isn't the most memorable movie in the Terminator saga, but it provides some solid entertainment and is a familiar yet original re-introduction into the Terminator world.
Have you seen Terminator Genisys? If so, what did you think about it? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @JamesPorter97