Cast: Christian Bale, Sam Worthington
Rating: ** & 1/2
So, one of the most successful sci-fi film franchises, The Terminator has turned 25.
The downbeat news is that there are no startling or imaginative elements about the fourth edition. Director McG, who launched his career with the two Charlie’s Angels movies, once again sticks to sheer formulaic material. Despite the blitzkrieg of eye-popping special effects, the outcome is lifeless.
To be sure, Terminator Salvation boasts all the sound and fury ensured by a mega-budget. After a point though the techno-gimmickry palls. Moreover, the overindulgence of close-ups and the grey-brown colour scheme merely add to the gloom-doom scenario. Even more so than its predecessors, all showcasing Arnold Schwarzenegger, this revival is obsessed with hardware rather than the heart.
Circa 2018, mankind’s messiah (Bale, taking over the role played earlier by Edward Furlong and then Nick Stahl) leads a resistance mission against the killer machines. He must also rescue a teenager (Anton Yelchin) who will grow up to become his father. Duh?
Inevitably, the post-apocalyptic plot is littered with time-travel twists, not to forget the preponderance of metaphysical mumbo-jumbo. To complicate matters, a convict (Australian newcomer Worthington) infiltrates the resistance group. Can the intruder be trusted? Do we really care?
The action set-pieces include chases, helicopters exploding right in your face and skirmishes between hapless humans and the rampaging robots. For a giggle, Schwarzenegger shows up, thanks to digital jiggery-pokery.
Christian Bale and Sam Worthington are stubbornly expressionless. Even the normally bankable Helena Bonham Carter looks jaded and indifferent to the ongoing cataclysm.
The A-list actors deserved better treatment from the director. Clearly, Salvation is only in the Terminator’s mind.