Director: Alan Taylor
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke
2 (out of 5) Globes
In the fifth “Terminator,” Arnold Schwarzenegger says “I’ll be back” once but “I’m old, not obsolete” at least three times, maybe four. Like “Jurassic World,” this latest exhuming of a very, very old franchise — starring a star whose post-pol comeback has been rough, to say the least — is acutely aware of itself and, more to the point, aware of its own potential irrelevancy. It has some shoehorned-in explanations for, for instance, why it stars a senior citizen android assassin, but it’s far more worried of not being up with the times. For better but mostly for worse, it fits right into the modern blockbuster: Like a Marvel film, it’s a hodgepodge of stuff, mixing in brainless plotting (involving heady scientific concepts), passing thrills and nostalgia for a happier time of less sloppy blockbusters, including 1984, the year of “The Terminator,” and 1991, the year of “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.”
Indeed, “Terminator: Genisys” — there’s also a pretty good explanation of its bothersome title — begins by flat-out recreating the first one. Once again post-apocalyptic savior John Connor (now Jason Clarke) has sent bud Kyle Reese (now Jai Courtney) back to 1984 to save/knock up his mom (now Emilia Clarke). There waits the T-800 (a digitally youthenized Ah-nuld) but, alas, also the other, nicer T-800 (today’s Ah-nuld) — apparently just like the one that saved Sarah and John in good old 1991, except this one was sent to 1973 to raise and train Sarah himself. The plan is to head off to thwart “Judgment Day,” which once upon a time happened in 1997 but has since been whimsically postponed till 2017.
Hopefully this isn’t already confusing, though don’t think the “Terminator” entry with more time travel mayhem than the entire series combined should be confused with “Primer.” Despite having an admittedly worthwhile hook, that playfully reworks a classic, it’s clear the script — one of whose writers, Patrick Lussier, penned three of last decade’s forgotten “Dracula” series — doesn’t worry too much about double checking all the time lines to make sure they pan out. Our not-so-secret surprise villain even boasts that he’s not worried about killing someone who’d ensure his basic existence because, five movies in, the number of multiple time lines has gotten too mudded anyway, and so yolo.