Terminator Salvation: Going Back to its Roots
“There is no fate but what we make”. This has been a mantra of the Terminator series from the beginning. This phrase is taken quite literally in the new movie “Terminator Salvation”. John Conner, played by Christian Bale, has always been told this motto by his mother ever since he could speak. He has always known that his fate, as well as the fate of the human race, is dependent on his actions and decisions. The choices he makes in this film directly affect what has happened before.
I decided to re-watch “The Terminator” after having gone to the theater to see the new film. Honestly, I was a bit under whelmed by “Terminator Salvation” and wanted to think about it before writing my review. I thought parts of it were a bit confusing and it took me a while to understand where they were going with this story. The special effects looked great and there are some great performances, but I wasn’t sure how I felt about the movie as a whole. After watching the first film again, my understanding of the new film increased. We learned in the first film that John Conner sends Kyle Reese back in time to protect Sarah Conner, John’s mother. During his mission to protect her, Kyle and Sarah fall in love and conceive a child, John. What we aren’t told is whether or not John told Kyle that he is his father before he sent him back in time and the events that lead up to this decision. A little confusing, huh? So, begins “Terminator Salvation”.
The basic premise of this film is that John comes to realize that he needs to find and protect his father because otherwise he will never be born and the machines will win the war against the humans. John is in a race to try to locate Kyle and make certain that he is safe and once he finds him, Kyle can be sent back in time to meet Sarah. Fortunately for Kyle and John, a mysterious man named Marcus Wright is also looking for Kyle to help him. This is where I have trouble with this film. Turns out, Marcus is a machine that was created by a scientist to prolong human life by installing parts of a human body into a machine. This includes the brain, heart and any other organs that can be saved. I get this concept, however why was he chosen to look for Kyle? If the machines reprogrammed him to get Kyle, why not just program him to kill him? I’m not sure what the overall purpose of this character was or why he needed to be included in this film. I think it should have been a story strictly about John looking for his father and saving him from the machines.
Despite this issue, I did enjoy the film and hope that any future films are made with this much attention to detail and keeping the timeline of the series intact. The action sequences were quite amazing and the pacing never let up and moved quickly. You couldn’t have asked for any better performances from the leads including Christian Bale, Sam Worthington and Anton Yelchin. The director, McG, has made a more substantial movie than his previous efforts and could grow a director to really watch.
I would recommend that you watch the first two Terminator movies either before or after seeing this one. It will remind you of the time line of this series as well as what you enjoy about these movies to begin with. Keep an open mind, enjoy the ride and let’s hope that if another one is made, they maintain the level established in the first films and keep the best parts of this film going forward.