VOD film review: Terminator Salvation
James R | On 23, Jul 2016
Cast: Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Anton Yelchin, Bryce Dallas Howard
Watch Terminator: Salvation online in the UK: Netflix UK / Amazon Prime / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Virgin Movies / Rakuten TV / Google Play / Sky Store / CHILI
“Come with me if you want to live,” says a resistance-wannabe to a complete stranger. It’s nice to know that, even as a teenager, Kyle Reese (Yelchin) was still using that line. But we can forgive him that: he is, after all, the father of John Connor (Bale). John Connor, the self-prophesied saviour of humankind in its apocalyptic rage against the machines. The man who, in 2018, is still yet to take up his post as leader of the human race. The gravel-voiced hero who loves shooting machines. And sometimes sounds a bit like Batman.
But what if Skynet (that evil robot corporation we all know and love) got their way and wiped out Kyle Reese? Then he wouldn’t be able to go back in time and save Sarah Connor in the past – using that trusty pick-up line. Or, to put it simply, John Connor wouldn’t exist. Bad news for the resistance. Good news for the toasters.
While John races to rescue Kyle from their computerised clutches, the Terminators are hard at work, developing a new robot that (shock, horror) looks human. Into the fray steps Marcus Wright (Worthington), a man who died back in 2003. 15 years later, he walks out of a mushroom cloud with no idea of who – or what – he is.
And so the plot unravels, sandwiched in between the time-travelling arcs of Terminators past. Shirking the franchise’s typical chase structure, it bowls along nicely. But where the previous entries had a sense of character (and even humour), here we have hollow explosions. The effects are impressive, sure, but the only person with any substance is the mysterious Marcus Wright.
The problem, perhaps, comes from the notion of predestined back-story; we are confident that John Connor survives, and that Kyle will live to be sent back in time. So no matter how big the robots get, there’s never any sense of danger – not even when an old friend turns up in a surprisingly neat cameo.
McG’s washed-out war thriller is at least well-paced. It zooms along at full throttle, trying to distract you from the failed attempts at Battlestar Galactica-lite philosophy. But with a disappointingly shallow script, it’s mainly up to the cast to keep things going. The charismatic Anton Yelchin is good as the young Kyle, Bryce Dallas Howard tries to make the most of limited screen-time as Connor’s non-existent girlfriend Kate, but the real star of it all? Sam Worthington. Perhaps a whole film from his perspective would have been this sequel’s saving grace.
Terminator Salvation is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription. It is also available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.