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Terminator Salvation

Better a little late than never.

Terminator Salvation
(McG, 2009)

Judgment Day, the dreaded end of life as all people know it, has come to pass, and now unyielding machines intent on the destruction of the human race threaten to exterminate all of humanity. The “Resistance” is all that is left, its members, in all actuality, comprising of the entire remaining human population. Its leader is a man of legendary status who the machines themselves recognize as the most dangerous man in the world—this man is John Connor, and he’s the human race’s last hope at winning the war against Skynet and its metallic host. He’s mankind’s only hope at salvation.

Christian Bale plays this gritty hero, bringing an entirely new persona to the role. John Connor, having been played by several actors in the Terminator saga’s past, including Edward Furlong (T2) and Nick Stahl (Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines), has never been so dark, visceral, and, to put it bluntly, purely bad-ass. Although he seemed rather shallow and placid, monotone even, in Terminator Salvation, that’s only to be expected under the circumstances in the film: in T4, Connor and his people are in the middle of a world-wide war against adversaries bent on his destruction; his emotions and outward depth and spirit has likely long left his being. In that light, what we see in the movie is a great portrayal by Christian Bale of this battle-hardened warrior.

Despite Bale’s viscerally unique performance as the great John Connor, the performer and character that really shines in Terminator Salvation is Sam Worthington as Marcus Wright, a man on a journey to discover who he really is—or, rather, what he has become—and to find redemption through acts of loyalty and friendship. This character is an interesting study which may cause some to look at their own lives and where they are in their own life’s journey, making T4 stand out as a film with a heart and soul rather than a mindless action flick. Moon Bloodgood as Blair, Marcus’s romantic interest in the film (if you can call it that, per-se) and Bryce Dallas Howard as John Connor’s perhaps forebodingly pregnant wife also deliver solid performances, providing interesting and relatable characters.

Above all else, however, standing out as the film’s greatest component, is the action. The name “Terminator” is synonymous with words like “explosion,” “action,” and “cyborgs.” Terminator Salvation has it all, and it’s all top-notch; the movie contains battles with Terminators both human-sized and immense, stimulating vehicular chases, and all-out war scenes of epic proportions. It’s all likely to leave you on the edge of your seat while you’re enduring its grand splendor.

When it comes down to it, Terminator Salvation is an excellent addition to the Terminator saga. While its themes and characters were never explored considerably deeply, its action is a spectacle to behold and the new Terminators it presents and storyline of post-Judgment Day it explores are brought to the screen very well. On a personal level, I enjoyed it very much, and while it certainly doesn’t touch T2 or the original Terminator, Terminator Salvation is up there among science fiction/action movies that I really, really like.