Terminator Salvation: MSN Review
Any new Terminator movie is ahead before it’s started. The simple but powerful premise of the first two – a network of machines gaining consciousness and endeavouring to wipe out humankind – provides such a strong science-fiction universe. With all the tools available to a modern-day filmmaker, a catalogue of iconic images to draw on and a script effectively already written, Terminator 4 surely can’t fail.
May 29 2009
We know what is happening here. We know that this is the futuristic war that John Connor (Christian Bale) is destined to fight against the forces of Skynet, who will soon send Terminators back through time to kill his mother (T1) and then him (T2). It’s the sequel that is the prequel to the first Terminator, if you see what we mean. It’s a straight-down-the-line war movie: us versus them. Again, we have to wonder how this could possibly go wrong.
Entrust it to a director whose last action project was Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, though, and we suddenly feel less secure in T4’s brilliance. But McG (as he is known) starts out well, offering up a stunning post-apocalyptic world in which humans hide from predatory Terminators like limescale in a kettle. The first skirmishes between the threadbare human resistance and the infinitely powerful machines are spectacular, set in striking visions of the world post Judgment Day. The Terminators are genuinely terrifying, particularly when built for real rather than spawned on computer as CGI nasties.
Here to break up the simplicity of Bale’s back-and-forth with Skynet’s tin men is Sam Worthington playing a man who awakens in 2018 with no memory of Judgment Day. And Worthington is a convincing tough guy in the vein of Liev Schreiber and Jason Statham. But it’s as he weaves his way into the futuristic war – an ambiguous character who might fall on either side of the wire - that the gaffs start to appear.
In fact, so much time is spent telling Worthington’s story that the central conflict often seems hopelessly rushed. How does Bale get the upper hand over the baddies? He suddenly discovers a cunning trick that switches them off. How does he infiltrate their base? He simply walks in – thanks Skynet for adding a human-sized door. There is a pact between a blockbuster and its audience that the bounds of possibility will be stretched. But T4 goes way over the line in this department – a shame when we consider how great it is to look at.
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