‘Terminator Genisys’ Review

Arnold's back, and he's the sequel's selling point

We didn’t need another “Terminator” film nearly as much as Arnold Schwarzenegger did.

The Austrian actor’s career has been on life support since leaving politics. When his character repeats the line, “I’m old but not obsolete,” it feels like the actor begging audiences to give him one last chance. Good thing “Terminator Genisys” reminds us why Schwarzenegger mattered in the first place. He’s funny, rugged and endearing, so much so that we’ll forgive how “Genisys” feels like a fan mashup of the previous films.

The sequel’s other selling point is using technology to make Schwarzenegger look 30 again … and then embrace the fact that he’s three years shy of 70.

The PG-13 action begins in 2029, where the remaining humans are staging a critical battle against the robot network, Skynet. Warrior John Connor (Jason Clarke) sends his right-hand man Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back to 1984 to protect Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke of “Game of Thrones” fame) from being targeted for termination. After all, she will give birth to John Connor, the man critical to the human uprising.

“Genisys” teems with action, humor and a storyline so pretzel-like you’ll need a note pad to keep up

Sounds like a repeat of the 1984 “Terminator,” right? Not exactly.

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The movie runs through the franchise’s critical beats, paying homage to some, reshaping others and mostly ignoring the fourth T-film, “Terminator Salvation.” “Genisys” adds little new to the broader storyline beyond more time-traveling complications.

The first 30 minutes, while well paced, feel as if everyone involved were feeling out the project. The jokes fall flat, the interpersonal dramas appear canned and even Schwarzenegger’s attempts at his signature humor sound suspect. Slowly, the film finds its momentum, and it’s like 1991 again.
Franchise fans will enjoy seeing the other Terminators, especially the shape shifting version now played by Byung-hun Lee. It’s still Scharzenegger’s show. He’s the franchise then … and now. Age hasn’t dulled his ability to deploy his accent to pump up a laugh line, and when he charges into battle you pity anyone dumb enough to respond in kind.

Yet “Terminator Genisys” is dispiriting all the same. There’s precious little new added to the franchise here beyond nips, tucks and re-statements. Other Hollywood reboots have found ways to breathe fresh line into moldy properties – think “Hannibal” and “Bates Motel” for two recent examples.

There’s little fresh here beyond how “Genisys” lets Schwarzenegger give us a treatise on Movie Star 101.  It’s good to see the big guy back, but there’s no rationale to extend this spent franchise another two-plus hours.
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