Terminator 4: Salvation (12A)
Cast: Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Moon Bloodgood, Helena Bonham Carter, Anton Yelchin, Jadagrace Berry, Michael Ironside
Running time: 115 minutes
The machines are back in Terminator 4: Salvation, once again to destroy all of mankind on Judgement Day. This franchise is nearly as old as me, much to my chagrin, and growing up with these films has made it nigh on impossible for me to not feel the urge to see the new ones. So, of course, I bimbled on along to the cinema to check it out. I was pretty livid given how Terminator 3 ended, so I really had no hopes and aspirations for this fourth one. Perhaps it’s that that made the film a much more worthwhile prospect for me. Who knows? Either way, I quite enjoyed it and have no qualms telling the naysayers exactly that.
It’s probably best to have a quick rundown of the other films before delving headfirst into this one:
Terminator 1 — Terminator is sent to the past to destroy Sarah Connor. Kyle Reese is sent to protect her. Kyle and Sarah make a baby called John.
Terminstor 2 — T-1000 sent, again, to kill Sarah and John. Future John sends a looky-likey of Terminator to protect young John. There is lots of molten steel.
Terminator 3 — Sexy female T-X now sent to kill Resistance members because they can’t find John. Resistance sends back a T-800 (model 101) to protect John and Kate. Hilarity ensues. John and Kate stay in bunker.
Well, what did you expect? I did say it was going to be a quick recap. Right, given that the end of the third film didn’t really go anywhere and angered most people (as John turns into a big, fat lily-livered chicken), you couldn’t help but wonder how they were going to set the wheels turning again. What the makers decided to do was tell the story a little differently, using the old storylines as a guide and a foundation. I wouldn’t say they’ve started again, as there are many references to things in the other films.
Terminator 4: Salvation plays around with the story a little bit and does so rather well, given that it has three predecessors. In the beginning, we are forced to watch a rather bald and eerie-looking physician, Dr. Serena Kogan (Helena Bonham-Carter), get consent from one of her patients, Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington), to have his body be used for medical research. A year later, Judgement Day happens and the machines destroy humanity. All spiffy so far. Fifteen years later, a fully-grown John Connor leads an attack at Skynet with the Resistance whereby he discovers human prisoners and the plans for the development of a new type of Terminator — one that incorporates living tissue. A brilliant addition to the story, if you ask me. John then believes he is the only survivor of the attack after the base is destroyed in a nuclear explosion. However, Marcus emerges from the wreckage of the base and proceeds on foot to Los Angeles.
He comes across Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) along the way — and there’s a very cute addition of a small mute girl, Star (Jadagrace Berry), who is able to detect the presence of Terminators. Marcus, Star and Kyle all fend off an attack from a T-600, at which point Marcus freaks out and asks him what is going on. Cue story relay so not only Marcus, but also the audience can get up to speed. Meanwhile, John Connor is forever boring people with his elongated announcements to the Resistance over the radio, asking people to hold on tight – plus other such meaningful and spirit-lifting diatribes. It was actually said quite poignantly and in a much better fashion by Kyle a little later on the film, where he asks people to stay alive in their hearts and in their minds. Why didn’t John just take a leaf out of his father’s book, eh?
To cut a long story short — more for the sake of not spoiling it – they all head in search of the Resistance, with Marcus being the only one who doesn’t get trapped by the machines, after another attack by a gigantic 20-storey Terminator (who can apparently tip toe and not make any noise before an attack on humans). Marcus makes his way on his own and comes across a hot chick (Moon Bloodgood) that falls for him and takes him back to the Resistance. There’s a whole variety of Terminators in this film to keep you occupied — big ones, average ones, motorbike ones — all sharing the very same concept that made them a little scary in the first place; the glowing red eyes.
The rest of the film is basically the rescue attempt to try to save Kyle Reese, as we all know that without him there is no John Connor. There are some pretty funky camera shots/angles in this film, especially at the beginning where one even turns upside down and follows John as he crashes a helicopter with a spectacular amount of failing. Some fun chases and some even cooler CGI make this motion picture a million times better than the third installment. Anton Yelchin does a superb job at playing Kyle Reese, but Christian Bale is a little too Batman for my liking. I swear he’ll be playing almost every (super)hero in Hollywood before we know it; allowing him to have free reign over the number of rants he has at crew members (if you don’t know what I’m talking about see here and then start packing to move out of your delightfully cozy cave).
There are some rather predictably poor lines in Terminator 4: Salvation, unfortunately, despite the story actually making some semblance of sense. Die-hard Terminator fans though will enjoy the little snippets that have been put into the film from the old ones, just for them. Do make sure you notice and appreciate the lines, “Come with me if you want to live” and the ever titillating “I’ll be back” — which made everyone whoop and cheer, reminding you that you are actually partaking in the viewing of a huge franchise to come out of the last thirty years. There are definitely some annoying moments in the film too, ones that I cannot help but comment on. Glaringly stupid additions like having one doctor who can perform any medical task, including heart transplants at the drop of a hat (I thought this kind of thing was specialised?) with no real medical equipment and Marcus’ excruciatingly obvious advantage over other humans, not making him really question where he came from. Despite this, we still feel for Marcus and I loved him as an addition to the film.
Finally, there is a little bonus in the shape of California’s Governor cleverly put back into the film, but that’s all I’m going to say about that.
Terminator 4: Salvation gets a pretty cool three and a half out of five.