Arnold is a good guy Terminator T-800, the good guys get pursued by a liquid-metal T-1000, there’s a big set piece street chase between a bus & motorcycle, and it all culminates in a knock-down drag-out confrontation in Cyberdyne headquarters.
No, wait — those are all moments from Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Wait, I’m sorry I was right the first time. They’re all happening again in Terminator Genisys. Déjà vu!
Despite my feeling that much of Genisys was a reshuffling of the storyboards from T2, there’s a lot to enjoy if you enjoyed the first three Terminator films in the franchise (I don’t count Salvation, and I’ve never seen it). Like so many sequels these days, Genisys taps into your sense of nostalgia for the older films, but it’s not just a retread.
There’s some really phenomenal CGI here that steps up the game for virtual actors in film like nothing else. Like Marty climbing in the rafters at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance, Genisys replays some iconic scenes from the first two films but from another perspective. We see the other side of the original T-1000 being sent back to 1984, as well as the moments leading up to Kyle Reese following closely behind to protect Sarah Connor.
And if you enjoy time travel in film (I’m a sucker for it, myself), there are some wonderfully mind-bending changes to the core Terminator franchise’s timeline introduced here which will keep you thinking after the credits roll.
As for the performances, Emilia Clarke has enough resemblance and at times channels Linda Hamilton well enough to pull off a believable Sarah Connor, Arnold kills it with the role he was born to play (is it a compliment or an insult to say his wheelhouse is that of a deadpan cyborg?), and Jai Courtney, while totally serviceable, is just another Kyle Reese.
I’m sure if this one makes enough cash there will be more films in the franchise (as is suggested by the mid-credits bonus scene you shouldn’t miss), but in many ways I felt like Genisys would serve as a wonderful love letter and farewell to fans of the earlier films.