Review of Terminator Genisys, Directed by Alan Taylor
The year is 2029. John Connor (Jason Clarke), leader of the human resistance against the machines, launches a final assault against Skynet and its time machine. Although Skynet is destroyed, the machines successfully send a T-800 back to 1984 to kill John’s mother, Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke). To protect her, Kyle Reese is also sent back. Thus begins the fifth installment of the Terminator series. This latest film is quirky with its humorous moments and nods to prior movies and at times long-winded in its attempt to explain a new timeline, but it succeeds in being an entertaining action flick designed to be a crowd pleaser.
[Spoiler alert: spoilers are included below, so be forewarned.]
When Kyle arrives, things are not as expected. A reprogrammed T-800 endearingly named “Pops” (Arnold Schwarzenegger) arrived in 1973 to protect Sarah, which altered the timeline. Without giving too much away, this alternate reality allows a retcon of the Terminator series, much like J.J. Abram’s relaunching of the Star Trek series by using a time-traveling black hole.
The jumping back and forth across a timeline and a so-called “nexus point” can get confusing as the trio of Sarah, Kyle, and Pops try to stop Judgment Day. But what comes through is Sarah’s desire to be able to make her own future. Since she was a girl, Pops taught her what was coming and she spent her years preparing for the inevitable. She knows the terminators that are coming to kill her, where they will be, and how they will act. She knows who she will fall in love with. She knows every important detail of her life.
Genisys is a software about to be uploaded on almost every electronic device, including military hardware. Genisys, however, is Skynet. Thus destroying Genisys will prevent Judgment Day, but ironically also create a new beginning for Sarah Connor. Allusions to the Book of Genesis are present not in just the film title and this theme of a fresh start, but also in the imagery. When Sarah and Kyle travel to the future, they must enter in the nude. Their prior union in an alternate timeline actually led to corrupted race, whereas this new Adam and Eve are humanity’s hope for a brighter future.
This idea of enslavement to a pre-set future and a desire to escape it is deeply biblical. Judgment Day is coming and we see the coming verdict of utter destruction. Sarah and Kyle know what is coming, it has been revealed to them. And so they prevent the consequences of Judgment by resetting Genesis, which also happened on Resurrection Sunday about two millennia ago.
Terminator Genisys is a Terminator movie for our time. Genisys is a “killer app” literally in a technology-obsessed society. The graphics are bigger and better. And Arnold Schwarzenegger is back.