Terminator Salvation concludes with a poignant discussion of human courage and sacrifice. One character earns the right to bear a symbol of such sacrifice, while another gives up something precious to benefit someone else. "Everyone deserves a second chance," he says. "This is mine."

Unfortunately, the potency of that moment is mitigated by the emotionally static film that precedes it. Director McG has orchestrated several action scenes, but at the expense of the human dimension that made the earlier Terminator films so memorable.

That's unacceptable for a movie about the very existence of the human race, but it's not the director's fault. Blame goes instead to writers John D. Brancato and Michael Ferris, who co-wrote the screenplays for the more entertaining Terminator 3 but also the infamous Catwoman. Their work on Terminator Salvation includes one unimaginative line of dialogue after another. Worse, none of the issues about humanity's plight seem forward-thinking, as in the best sci-fi movies, but play instead as mere retreads of the themes established in the first Terminator film, way back in 1984.

Poor Michael Ironside, as Connor's superior, gets the worst of it as the inhuman war leader, uttering a "stay the course" line seemingly intended to draw a parallel between his character's monstrous decisions and George W. Bush's defense of the war on terror.

After years of criticism of the George Bush presidency, the film's attempted political parallel feels as tiresome as the rest of this mechanical story. If there's another Terminator, it should put human relationships, not human/machine combat, front and center.


Questions? Concerns? Contact the writer at crosswalkchristian@verizon.net.

CAUTIONS:

  • Language/Profanity:  Lord's name taken in vain; cruel comments made to a cancer victim; occasional foul language.
  • Smoking/Drinking:  None. 
  • Sex/Nudity:  Kissing; none although one terminator with a human form appears naked, with his midsection obscured.
  • Violence:  A needle is shown puncturing the skin of an arm more than once; air attacks; bombing; gunfire and killing; a dead fighter falls out of a helicopter; terminator robots relentlessly attack human resistance fighters; a human body skips across a body of water, like a stone; a man and woman fend off three attackers; a submarine is destroyed; a robot that appears to be human tears chips from the back of his neck, drawing blood.
  • Religion:  Psalms 23 is recited twice; terms like "salvation" and "false prophet" are used in the context of the physical survival of mankind; John Conner says, "There is no fate but what we make."