Review: ‘Terminator Salvation’

An entertaining new entry into the Terminator saga (with the exception of either the biggest continuity error of the series or holding back critical information for a future film that may never get made.)

Years after Judgment Day, John Connor (Christian Bale) is a soldier, not the leader of the human resistance his mother had promised him. After a raid goes terribly wrong leaving Conner as the only survivor, Conner departs… moments before someone else crawls out of the wreckage: Marcus (Sam Worthington), a man out of time who’s last memory was being executed long before any war with the machines. Trying to figure out what happened to himself and hearing John Conner on the radio pushing for resistance against the machines, Marcus decides Conner is the man to see… if he can stay alive long enough to find him.

Since the first Terminator film, this is what fans wanted to see: the end of the world, mankind resisting the machines. We have an ending and a beginning, so all that’s missing is the meat in the middle, and Salvation brings a lot of that to life. That said, there appears to be a love-it-or-hate-it issue with the film that stems from a very important plot point: how much does already Skynet know? While the no-name, non-bronze no-prize suggests that time keeps changing every time another terminator goes back and that a future sequel (since this was supposed to be the first of a new trilogy) may hold the answer, the fact that not one character ever bothered to mention or voice their suspicions feels very sloppy for a film this meticulously crafted.

Sadly, this all could have been fixed with one line of dialogue, but instead, nitpickers and franchise fanatics are left to their own devices as to whether or not the original story has gone of the tracks. This is still early in the war: Skynet has switched to collecting humans instead of killing them, the T-1000s haven’t been invented yet, and the the time-travel equipment is still a distant concept. Also, Moon Bloodgood is a nice distraction for looking all bad ass and vulnerable at the same time.

While not as criminal as Reign of Fire for “Hey, where’s the rest of it?” Salvation does a lot right: cooler weapons, bigger robots, factories churning out terminators, and more. But when the now-defunct television series (“The Sarah Conner Chronicles”) was more adept at telling a time travel story that made sense, that feeling of being robbed or blindsided casts a distinct shadow over all the good done here. While I choose to believe (for now) that future installments would prove out my “every time you change the future, Skynet gets a little smarter” theory, this installment gets approval for pretty much everything else.

(a three skull recommendation out of four)

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