Terminator Salvation is the fourth movie in the Terminator franchise, which takes the series in a darker and grittier direction. Directed by McG, who is best known for his work on films like Charlie’s Angels (2000) and a slew of music videos, this entry in the Terminator series amps up the action and number of explosions.
Set in a post-apocalyptic world of war between humans and machines, people will go to incredible lengths to ensure their survival. Does this emphasis on action and warfare diminish the Terminator brand, or is Terminator Salvation a big-budget blockbuster worth watching? Let’s see if this modern sequel can live up to its classic predecessors.
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The Film Review
Terminator Salvation breaks away from the traditional story-structure of the previous films, offering a bigger, more explosive story with several characters and set-piece moments. It’s also the first Terminator film to not star Arnold Schwarzenegger as one of the titular robots. The movie follows several groups of characters, all leading up to a climactic finale that wraps it all together.
Taking place in 2018, years after Judgment Day, the war against Skynet and its Terminator machines is well underway. John Connor (Christian Bale) and his wife Kate (Dallas Bryce Howard), battle as Resistance fighters in the robotic war. While some believe in the prophecy that John Connor will lead them to eventual victory, others doubt him, refusing his advice and leadership.
Elsewhere, a man named Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) is seemingly resurrected from death, appearing on the battlefield nearly 15 years after his execution as a death-row inmate. This mysterious man exhibits superhuman strength and resilience and begins his search to find an unknown target. During his search, he encounters Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) and Star (Jadagrace Berry), two young Resistance fighters living in the ruins of Los Angeles. Together as a team, the three survivors attempt to take on the Terminator army and infiltrate Skynet.
As is expected with the Terminator brand, Terminator Salvation is packed to the brim with action, including huge explosions, crazy vehicle stunts, and intense action. In fact, Terminator Salvation is the most action-focused of the four Terminator movies thus far, at points to its detriment.
The movie foregoes any of the lighthearted overtones from Terminator 2 or comedy from Terminator 3, opting for a far more serious and bleak tone. The action is hard-hitting and brutal, full of flashy special effects and massive destruction. If you come to the Terminator movies for the action, you’ll have a great time with Terminator Salvation.
Unfortunately, Terminator Salvation has a host of problems. The script is notably weak and lacks any character development or interesting scenes of dialogue. Most of the actors give underwhelming performances, including Christian Bale in the leading role.
While the action is plenty of fun to watch, it has a habit of being too bombastic, akin to the Transformers movies directed by Michael Bay. Ultimately, the surplus of action scenes come at the cost of an interesting story, as you’ll likely forget most of the narrative not long after watching the movie.
The Bottom Line
Overall, Terminator Salvation is a by-the-numbers sequel that tries to compensate for its mindless plot with a flurry of flashy action and explosions. While this might work on a surface level, any fan of the Terminator franchise will probably be disappointed by how Salvation continues the story.
While it’s not downright awful, Terminator Salvation is all style and no substance, if you consider bleak visuals and excessive action “style”, that is. There are definitely some entertaining moments within the nearly 2-hour film, but you’ll have to watch some mindless stuff to get there.
- Fun action sequences
- Shakes up the structure of storytelling
- Relies too heavily on special effects
- Mediocre story and characters
- Underwhelming acting