movie film review | chris tookey

Terminator Salvation

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  Terminator Salvation Review
Tookey's Rating
3 /10
Average Rating
4.47 /10
John Connor: Christian Bale , Marcus: Sam Worthington
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Directed by: McG
Written by: John D. Brancato and Michael Ferris

Released: 2009
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 115

All action, little entertainment.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Frankly, if youíre in the mood for grim, apocalyptic drama, you might be better off just turning on the news. Thereís nothing in Terminator: Salvation as scary as the sight of Gordon Brown and Harriet Harman trying to pretend that nothing has gone wrong, and itís business as usual. It would be an act of kindness for an Arnie-type terminator to put them out of their misery, or - with a cheery ďHasta la vista, New LabourĒ - escort them to a nice long rest at the Priory.

The fourth Terminator movie is the loudest and weakest of a hitherto entertaining series. Technologically, itís as advanced as you would expect from a Hollywood blockbuster. Plenty of ingenuity has gone into designing numerous killer robots, and there are explosions galore.

But I ended up wishing some of the bombs had gone off under the obsessively flashy director, McG (short for Joseph McGinty Mitchell), who gave us the vacuous Charlieís Angels movies and screenwriters John D. Brancato and Michael Ferris, responsible for the mega-flop Catwoman.

Star Trek earlier this summer proved that, even in a blockbuster, it is reasonable to hope for a storyline that involves, characters who develop, and a sense of humour Ė all ingredients that this picture lacks. Even the post-apocalypse setting of an America laid waste is hackneyed, as itís far too obviously based on the Mad Max movies.

The whole Terminator series is supposed to be about humans versus machines, and the differences between the two. Unfortunately, for the first time in this series, itís hard to avoid the conclusion that the mechanistic has triumphed over the human.

The narrative of the first three Terminator movies was commendably clear. In T1, a woman, Sarah Connor, ran from a machine that was trying to kill her. In T2, her son , the young John Connor, did the same. In T3, John Connor as a young man and Claire Daines as his girlfriend did likewise.

In T4, there are three strands to the story, neither of them even slightly riveting. In one, the grown-up John Connor kills a lot of machines. In another, someone we donít care about wonders if heís a man or a killing machine. In the third, the terminators kidnap humans instead of killing them, which is what terminators are meant to do. None of this makes much sense.

Christian Bale (pictured) is surprisingly poor as John Connor, whoís grown up to become the most prominent member of the human resistance to machines that have done their utmost by 2018 to cull humanity from our planet. He scowls, growls and howls, but we never know much about him.

Baleís much-publicised tantrum against the filmís lighting cameraman may well have been born out of frustration at his own performance. Itís robotic, his worst since his wooden fisherman in Captain Corelliís Mandolin. He clearly needs a rest, and on this evidence should spend more time reading scripts before he agrees to perform them.

Heís just as monotonous as the Aussie actor Sam Worthington, also tediously impenetrable as a convicted murderer killed by lethal injection, who wakes up to find himself transformed into a cyborg Ė and Iím not giving away information that isnít obvious from the trailer. His inner conflict between man and machine isnít dramatised in an interesting way, and even if it had been Mr Worthington was not the man to convey it.

Arnold Schwarzeneggerís conflicted performances as terminators are starting to look in retrospect like acting masterclasses. They were also fun, which the performances in this film are not.

The most attractive character, because he has energy and shows a few recognisably human characteristics including fear, is the teenager Kyle Reese (played by Anton Yelchin) who will eventually become John Connorís father Ė which makes it a bit weird that the terminators donít seem all that bothered about killing him. Donít worry either if the chronology doesnít make sense. Thereís no reason for you to worry about this more than the screenwriters, who clearly couldnít care less.

But Kyleís a relatively minor character in this lumbering, joyless and deafening dud. It is bound to do okay on its first weekend, but isnít much better than X-Men: Wolverine. Itís brainless, itís soulless, and it gave me a headache.

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