Can you really expect to take anything seriously by a director named McG? Honestly. Not to mention, this guy is responsible for the Charlie’s Angels movies, Yeesh. For the first time it looked like maybe we could. Here was Terminator Salvation, a movie with a cast of some seasoned, some fresh, all edgy actors. There was a trailer that looked exciting, a summer blockbuster that may actually have more heart than heartthrob. Could McG deliver something that promised action and effects with story and substance? No. Terminator Salvation falls where most quadrilogy franchises do; right to the point where sequels begin to discredit their often classic namesake films. We’ve seen it time and time again, with Alien, Lethal Weapon, Spiderman, etc. There is that point when something once groundbreaking is reduced to anything but.
Terminator Salvation picks up during the war all of the other Terminator films try to prevent. John Connor (Christian Bale) is all grown up and leading the resistance against the Machines as he has been destined to do since James Cameron’s 1991 T2. Here, Connor fights off the robots in one action scene after another, eventually discovering the levels to which Skynet (the robot base) are truly willing to take their domination of man. Bale’s Connor is cold and emotionless, a far cry from the tormented pre-teen Connor played by Edward Furlong back in ‘91. Funny, but the character who creates the strongest bond to the audience is Marcus Wright, a mysterious character who joins the Resistance in search of Connor. Wright is played by newcomer Sam Worthington, who inadvertently outshines Bale’s performance by a mile.
Bale is a great actor, and its not his fault that his performance falls flat, its really a matter of the weak script and inadequate direction that Bale had to work with. I heard rumors that Bale refused to do the film until the script was revised so that it could be read cold as a stage play, and make perfect sense. I guess Bale must have given in, because this script couldn’t even measure up to an off-Broadway rendition of Ishtar. The effects in this movie are well done and exciting, its just that the original, Cameron directed (and written) Terminator films told great stories with great action, and here we are missing any story whatsoever. Recycling the “I’ll be back” line and using a computer-generated caricature of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s iconic role, this film alienates, rather than pays homage to the originals. I would much rather listen to Linda Hamilton’s crazed musings in the first two films than actually have to watch her tales come to life in this highly unoriginal waste of time.