Unless you're prepared to explain everything, it's better not to make a time-travel movie. For sure, the idea of turning back the clock, reliving the past and changing the future shall forever hold our fascination as mortal beings. But in less skilled hands, the latent absurdity of the premise can appear eminently distracting, even downright ludicrous. With neither the brains nor the cool, Terminator Genisys, a wannabe mind-twister which tries so hard to be both clever and comfortably trashy, fails dismally on both ends.
The time is 2029. Wait, make that 1984. Or should we say 2016? Hmm, was that 1997 just now? For any movie, juggling this many timelines and the logical implications of teleporting between them would be a real handful, let alone one about evil cyborgs taking over the world headlined by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Needlessly convoluted, the film dances itself into a dead-end indulging in these ever-multiplying versions of reality. It's bad enough that the overly expository dialogue comes across so intellectually challenged with its quick supply of theories and explanations.
The fun factor of something like this is also significantly lowered without a healthy self-awareness of camp. Underwhelming also on a technical level, the monotonously pompous production and the expensive-looking but thoroughly unspectacular action choreography leave an altogether forgettable impression – the only exception possibly being the flight chase sequence following a helicopter drop near the end, which capitalizes on the 3D photography to momentarily cool effect.
Ultimately, the biggest selling point of this misguided reboot is probably the one-liner-ready Arnie. Although very much still too robotic even to play a robot, Schwarzenegger himself feels like physical embodiment of all those decades the film keeps going back to, and it's somewhat reassuring – if unintentionally so – to see some things never change.
Terminator Genisys | Directed by Alan Taylor (USA 2015) with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jai Courtney, Emilia Clarke, Jason Clarke. Starts July 9