With airports packed to the rafters with surly, well-fed and flight delayed passengers this Thanksgiving weekend I thought it would be only appropriate to celebrate the reason for the season by reviewing what is surely one of the worst films I’ve seen all year: Terminator Genisys. And though labeling this film a turkey is an insult to North American Meleagris gallopavo everywhere, aside from one killer action set piece on the Golden Gate Bridge and the very welcome presence of Whiplash Oscar-winner J.K. Simmons, this Terminator is definitely for the birds.
Loud and completely ridiculous from start to finish, Genisys would be bad enough without the Terminator name in the title. But the fact that this lame retread of a sequel squanders any of the goodwill the aging action franchise had with longtime fans is beyond unforgivable. Erasing everything that happened in the Terminator universe since (and after!) Skynet sent the first T-800 back in time to kill Sarah Connor in 1984’s original Terminator film, Genisys unleashes an entirely new timeline into the mix that is as full of holes as the police station front desk in the first film.
Honestly, keeping track of the many alternate timelines and predestination paradoxes in the Terminator series has never been easy, but chucking aside the first, and arguably best, two films in the series on a whim stings like a T-1000 knife/hand in the back. To return to the bird analogy for a minute, it’s as if the Genisys filmmakers are gleefully flipping hardcore fans of the series a giant liquid alloy bird: “Remember that movie you liked, you know the one that changed the face of indie-minded sci-fi forever, spawned a $1.8 billion film franchise and made household names out of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton and director James Cameron? Yeah, well, that doesn’t exist anymore in our new timeline. Sorry.” Urgh…so totally lame.
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger in a bizarre, kindly grandfather twist on his original character from Terminator, Jason Clarke (Everest, The Great Gatsby), Jai Courtney (Unbroken, Divergent) and Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke, Genisys was directed by Emmy-winner Alan Taylor (Thor: The Dark World). And though Taylor has proven himself to be a skilled director on the TV front with stellar work on everything from Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire to The Sopranos and Lost, his action directing skills here are pedestrian at best. Seriously, I’ve seen high school plays with better fight choreography.
That said, the aforementioned action sequence on the Golden Gate Bridge – which features two Terminators during it out on a speeding school bus driven by Clarke’s hard-charging Sarah Connor – is pretty spectacular and Simmons, as always, shines in every scene he’s in. But two super cool elements do not a successful action movie make.
The original Cameron-era Terminator films worked because they were fun, fast paced and time tripping in the best sense of the term. Whereas the bloated, low-octane Genisys feels like a muddled, misguided timeline just waiting to be deleted. And though I can’t travel back in time to prevent this film from ever being made, I can warn you not to watch it in-flight. So, if you like your Terminator franchise the way it is, steer clear of this turkey of a reboot at all costs!
Currently playing on select Air France, Hawaiian Airlines and Air New Zealand flights worldwide, Terminator Genisys is also available via streaming at Amazon Instant Video, Google Plus and iTunes.