McG has achieved the impossible – a tedious Terminator film. It’s skull crushingly pointless – nothing that happens in the film advances the Terminator story, other than to engineer the first meeting between John Connor (Christian Bale) and his father Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin). Oh sure Sam Worthington appears (with appalling American accent) as window dressing Marcus the cyborg in a perfunctory subplot, but only to demonstrate just how much humanity Connor has lost in his quest to destroy Skynet and its Terminators. And while I’m on the subject of Skynet, didn’t Terminator 3 prove that Skynet was everywhere? Where did the resistance find a way to maintain computers, helicopters and submarines which weren’t infected with the Skynet AI virus? There are plot holes a mile wide here, and speaking of plot…why isn’t there one, apart from Marcus and Connor crossing one another’s paths, on separate but similar quests for Kyle Reese? Why take two hours for Marcus to achieve salvation? What on earth was the resistance doing, being led by camp submariner Michael Ironside? Who let normally hardass Ironside even be camp?!
It’s a film which looks great – the CGI is astonishing, but this is part of the problem. Director McG focuses all his attention on the fantastic action sequences, and sidesteps weaving a narrative to engage his audience with. You end up with a series of interconnected action sequences, but nothing more, and it’s the film’s biggest of its many problems – why on earth should you care about any of these characters (yes, even the pointless Bryce Dallas Howard)? And you really don’t – it doesn’t help that Bale doesn’t bother to act, yet nor does Worthington. It’s only really Anton Yelchin as Reese who’s worth noting – Star Trek really wasn’t a flash in the pan – and it’s a shame he has so little screen time in contrast to his more famous colleagues. But no relationship forms between Bale and his future father Yelchin, and Worthington’s and Yelchin’s only acts as a deus ex machina and…are you getting the picture? This is a blindingly pointless film. No narrative about fate and its inevitability, no use of the established future history, no contrasts between the weary 30 something Connor and his teenage future father. This came across more than anything as a great opportunity to generate licensing money from the numerous new Terminator models. Bale should stick to Bruce Wayne, the series needs a director and writer who have more to offer than this film’s. 5/10