To understand and appreciate this new installment, you should have seen at least the first two parts of the Terminator trilogy. “Terminator: Salvation” unveils the horrific future world that was only briefly shown before, the dreaded dystopia where a war between man and intelligent machines raged.
Directed by McG, it stars Christian Bale as John Connor, a resistance figure so important that relentless cyborgs time-traveled to the past to erase him from existence. “Salvation” creates a dark, chaotic reality that easily connects with what was previously presented. Humans are herded and exterminated, so John Connor must find his father Kyle Reese--still a teenager, played by Anton Yelchin--to ensure that certain events become history.
The dynamic is different but not necessarily better; the previous Terminator films tapped the underdog element well. In this prequel, Connor and Reese are guaranteed to survive, despite some life-threatening situations, so the dangers aren’t as felt as those in the old movies. The action sequences are executed impressively, however, so there’s still a working semblance of urgency. There are dramatic moments, brought about by the inclusion of Marcus (Sam Worthington), a confused cyborg with a heart.
What “Salvation” lacks is the presence of strong females in the vein of Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor. Bryce Dallas Howard and Moon Bloodgood play pretty forgettable background characters.
While the script clunks on occasion, some classic lines are uttered with precision by key characters. Also, there aren’t many stories left to explore, but the crucial ones--those involving time travel and the introduction of new Terminator models--should make for some interesting, action-heavy sequels.