Directed by McG
May 21, 2009
It is the far off year of 2018 and Judgement Day has come and gone. Skynet’s extermination of humanity is proceeding effectively. John Connor (Christian Bale) encounters a mysterious new kind of Terminator that thinks it is human in Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) and must learn what kind of threat, if any, it is.
I like how Salvation continued the Terminator story and we finally got to see some of the future war. While the series is a time travel concept, we all wanted to see some future war action in these movies. At least the part where John beats Skynet’s butt. While we got a taste of that we also got a lot of brand-new side characters and an unusual level of focus on the once and done character Marcus Wright. He was never mention before and would not continue past this film given his fate at the film’s climax.
This was planned to be the first of a new trilogy so why focus on a one-off character? It would have been different if Marcus had survived the end of the film, but he does not. Sorry to ruin it for you. And I never found his character to be engaging. There is no sense to his need to make it to Skynet. I understand he was an advanced infiltration unit, but I am not sure how him just waking up in the middle of nowhere after an attack was a good idea on the part of Skynet. If he was mixed in with the human prisoners and John rescued him then that is a logical way to get the character to infiltrate John Connor’s base and bring him to Skynet but he stumbled around the wasteland before miraculously connecting with Connor after intersecting with pilot Blair Williams (Moon Bloodgood). What occurred was coincidence that dialogue was meant to make appear as part of a plan by Skynet.
Obviously if it is it is set during the future war new supporting characters would be necessitated but too often the story drifted away from John Connor and his importance. Katherine “Kate” Brewster-Connor (Bryce Dallas Howard this time) existed in the film mostly for John to have someone to talk to who understood. And how do you go from being a veterinarian to being capable of heart surgery? I could see repurposing a veterinarian to be a medic but somehow she obtained significant medical education between being trapped in that bunker at the end of Rise of the Machines and this movie.
And since I brought it up: heart transplant surgery on a battlefield? That is utterly ludicrous and I am saying this while acknowledging that this is a film universe where time travel has been regularly used as a way to kill the future leader of the human resistance against sentient machines. Putting aside the potential for rejection rates and tissue matches how do you conduct something so sophisticated under a field tent with less than optimal conditions? You just do not get the gear and drop a new heart in. You are not working on a transmission or dropping a battery into a new car. Heart transplant surgery is something that takes time and skill and equipment that is generally not just laying around.
What occurred though with the list the Resistance got from Skynet is an actual plan. That was a well thought out idea with the signal in the list and everything and it was also good way to introduce the character of Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) immediately into the story, but it does create a sizable plot hole. How does Skynet know the importance of Kyle Reese? At the time of the first Terminator film Skynet did not even know the physical appearance of Sarah Connor. It only knew the general area in which she lived and that was why the first Terminator was killing everyone by their listing in the phonebook until we got to the correct Sarah Connor. His father was just as much a mystery to Skynet.
This is something that I feel needed to be addressed in the film. A line or two could have addressed this as either John worrying that Skynet did know who his father was or something. Skynet had no concerns over being bombed by the attack it was tricking the humans into launching. That is clear. It believed as that it would have the Resistance wiped out quickly and easily. There is no indication that Skynet was going to let the bombs kill Kyle.
It was good to see the character of John becoming a bit of a folk hero to humanity. In this film he was on the verge of being the leader. That was a good touch. We saw the character on the verge of being a legend and how this raid kind of made him that legend. The camp liberation was a nice touch. It was something mentioned in the original film that was not too significant there but in this movie was made into something important.
The action scenes were solid enough and played out better than some of the action scenes in the previous movie. I am glad they were no machine superhero battles in this one. I prefer my Terminator battles to have the human survive by the skin of their teeth.
I enjoyed seeing the new Terminator machines. The motorcycle Terminators were cool looking even if they were a bit silly. But that giant Terminator at the gas station which looked a lot like the gas station from Terminator 2 was so awesome.
While I do like the idea of seeing the future war, what Salvation does in this movie is not good. The time to remove the focus from John Connor is not in the midst of the future war story. That time was any film set prior to it. Once you are in a story in a movie at that point then John is your main guy. Now is not the time for building a relationship between new character Marcus Wright or Blair Williams. Establishing Dr. Serena Kogan (Helena Bonham Carter) just slowed the narrative. Star (Jadagrace Berry) was just to add “cute kid” to the mix. The introduction of General Ashdown (Michael Ironside) did however work. He moved the story along and was important for the resolution even though he did die. His actions and direction were important.
Salvation has the bits and pieces for a great movie, but it is not quite there. It is very very close but not 100% there. If there was perhaps a better idea of where they were going with the unfinished trilogy then I might say differently. There was no indication of where they might go after this other than the eventuality of John sending his father back in time and we all know that will happen.
Salvation is not a bad movie, but it is not as good as it could have been. It is an okay film that will appeal to fans of the Terminator saga but since they never went further with the story it is a bit unnecessary to see.