As far as I can glean, possibly the worst film I’ve seen in over two decades. “Terminator Genysis” is downright awful. I’ve gotten pretty good over the years (30 as a film critic, in one form or another, either in print or on broadcast), at finding something–anything–within a motion picture, that might be a reason to recommend it to someone. I’ve also become pretty adept at avoiding the truly terrible stuff. I mean, not only do I not want to sit through “The Human Centipede III” or “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2”, but what’s the point in publicly eviscerating them? Of course, they are bad movies–you don’t have to actually experience them to realize that. But “Terminator Genysis” is a special beast. It’s super expensive, and opening on one of the biggest blockbuster weekends of the summer. It heralds the return to the franchise of its original series star (at the time of release, a 67-year-old Arnold Schwarzenegger), who upon the opening of the 2nd installment in 1991, was the undisputed #1 movie star in the world. It’s supposed to give you something. It doesn’t. The acting is bad, the screenplay is awful, the action sequences are tepid. Hopefully, this is the last gasp for the tired series.
Do I have to run through the plot? Ugh. It’s some goofy alternate timeline nonsense, that plays like something thrown out from “Back to the Future, Part II”. They recreate some scenes from the 1984 James Cameron original “The Terminator” feature, and before long they usher in an ancient-looking Mr. Schwarzenegger, years beyond his pumped-up, intimidating, killer cyborg prime. Did you ever think you’d witness the day, when the murderous robot from the first movie is affectionately referred to as “Pops”? That time has arrived. And the less said about Emilia Clarke as Sarah Conner, as well as Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese…the better. You can’t imagine how much you’ve missed Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn, until you’ve endured these two. You know, the last time I watched a “fifth in the franchise” film this crappy, was the last “Die Hard” sequel…also starring Mr. Courtney. I’m sensing a pattern. We’re in 2017 this time, mostly everything you learned from the first four “Terminator” releases has been turned upside down, plus they’ve dragged in poor Lee Byung-hun, a huge international star from South Korea, presumably to juice up the foreign box office (it may have worked…”Genysis” performed solidly overseas). But he can’t save it. Neither can recent Academy-winner J.K. Simmons, who’s tragically wasted. And Jason Clarke (as John Connor), so exceptional in last year’s excellent “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”, can’t do it either. This is a colossal waste of talent.
Director Alan Taylor was primarily a television helmer, until he picked up the job controlling “Thor: The Dark World” for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I didn’t like that movie, but it’s genius compared to “Terminator Genysis”. And allow me to list some of Patrick Lussier’s screenplay credits: “Dracula 2000”, “Dracula II: Ascension”, “Dracula III: Legacy”–seen any of those? Yeah, me neither. His partner, Laeta Kalogridis, was partially responsible for 2004’s “Alexander”, perhaps the biggest bomb of Oliver Stone’s career. Who hired this team? You may be asking by this point, “is there anything“? Well, there’s a little bit of mileage gotten out of Ah-nuld’s cyborg character having a creepy smile. So, try coasting for two hours on that. I imagine this review will have the opposite effect on some people, and they’ll give it a shot on home video. I can hear it already: “it can’t be that bad”. Go ahead, suffer…you’ve been warned. At least, finally, after nearly four years, I’ve implemented the full spectrum of my letter-grading procedure. Because no matter how you slice it, the word “failure” always begins with the sixth symbol in the alphabet. “Terminator Genysis” is a short-circuited nightmare.