The salvation in Terminator Salvation, it’s such an aptly chosen title. Not only does it replace the “4” that would have been put otherwise in the the title, but it’s also a statement about the franchise itself. With two very clever and high-octane movies followed by a lackluster third, which I must admit did have some good action sequences as well as a good ending, the franchise seemed to have run its course. But Terminator Salvation actually salvates the franchise by throwing away the tim-travelling Terminator aspect and going down the Mad Max route.
Salvation brings the franchise back on its feet and sets up the series for a whole new chapter. Shockingly the movie is less about John Connor than it is about Marcus Wright. A man, executed in 2003 who donated his body to Cyberdyne suddenly appears naked in the apocalyptic world of 2018. Not a day older and who has no memory of the events that occurred in the mean time. Clever readers will probably guess what’s up with Marcus but I won’t spoil the surprise. John Connor gets top billing and is in the end the star of the show, but he’s pretty underdeveloped here. Yes, he listens to tapes made by his mother and spends most of his time fighting machines as well as arguing with his superiors who do not believe in the prophecy fortold; that John Connor is the man who would be victorious in the war against the machines. Hey wait a minute… isn’t this taken straight from The Matrix Reloaded?
Well yeah, it is. And that’s actually the downside of Terminator Salvation. While full on action with some great scenes and with some original robots the movie does feel like it has been borrowing from all kinds of other movies. The whole apocalyptic setting reminded me of Mad Max, the robots in some cases looked more like Transformers rejects than Terminators, like those motorcycles. But, they were cool though.
What was dissapounting is how easy the humans fought the Terminators. In the first three movies it took a whole movie to barely win from one. In this movie a teenager and a kid take out a T-600 with ease. In that time-slot people do know more about Terminators and how to stop them but the machines never are as threatening as the T-800, T-1000 and the T-X.
The movie also heavily refers back to it’s predecessors with obligatory lines like “come with me if you want to live”, “I’ll be back” and even the entire speech Sarah gave us at the end of Judgment Day returns. But that’s part of what makes a Terminator movie a Terminator movie.
But the movie is fun and feels definitely fresh in comparison with Terminator 3: Rise of the machines. Christian Bale might have himself a new franchise on his hand next to his role as the Dark Knight in the Batman movies. And while not reaching the heights of parts 1 and 2, Terminator Salvation is a good action movie on its own.