Arnie has been rebooted and repackaged as the Terminator once more for the fifth instalment in the Terminator franchise, Terminator Genisys. But, doning some leather, keeping schtum for most of the film and turning out a self-anticipated catchprase does not a cult film make. It is the year 2029 and Skynet is readying itself for an all out win-or-lose battle with the human resistance, led by John Connor (Jason Clarke). In order to prevent Skynet from erasing their present day wins, the resistance must travel to the past to stop them killing Sarah Connor (sound familiar?), played by Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke. Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) is her chosen protector and ultimately her love interest. On his arrival into the 80s, Kyle learns the timeline has been disrupted and they are now in an alternate world where Sarah already knows about Skynet. This is when things get so nonsenical you begin to question whether you are missing something pivotal or if perhaps you have been outsmarted by Arnie.
Given we are only at the first point of discovery- finding Sarah and the terminator in the past-the narrative becomes extremely muddled relatively early on. Whether due to its fatigued exertions plowing through self referential former plotlines and time travelling leaps, or whether it is down to a lack of real plot necessitating audience confusion as a cover up, it becomes indecipherable. For in short, this is what it is- a love note passed to itself, the first two instalments of the franchise, but nothing more. Beyond the fan geekdom enjoyment of seeing what Arnie’s pop culture icon character would look like grey and old, hearing the old catchphrases and eighties’ references, it is pretty vacuous. Regardless, it is a watchable and relatively enjoyable blockbuster, once you accept it as the parody it is. Rehashed and served up with this era’s version of modern threats and cultural references, it is hard to imagine anyone watching it thirty years from now like the original, as it is doomed to a post-cinema screening expiration date.
The first Terminator was a surprise box office hit in 1984, with Arnie’s unfamiliar and clunky use of the English language matched with a generational fear of nuclear war and mass technological development. Terminator Genisys does embrace these winning factors, with the eponymous Genisys as the new threat to humanity; tutting at all app, android phones and tablet lovers. It was conceived not as a budget sci-fi labour of love, like the first which launched the careers of both Schwarzenegger and Cameron , but with dollar signs at the forefront of the mission.
A pitfill of the film’s insistence to draw references to the first two in the franchise is we compare this wain version alongside the nostalgic favourites of the early successes. ‘I will be back’ was as all real catchphrases should be, audience picked and unforseeable. Terminator Genisys’ ‘I am old, not obsolete’ begs for mean criticism and is shoved down the audience’s throats at every opportunity.
The governator as he is now known thanks to his political win in california and the following Stan Lee kids comic, is more aptly described by his new nickname than his old character’s title. He is the ageing politician just trying to stay relevant, and it’s slightly sad. Terminator Genisys is a cheesy homage to the original but never a stand alone success.