I just got back from viewing Terminator: Salvation, and my first thought was “New Chekov is a badass!” My second thought was, “what the HELL is wrong with people?”. All week long I’ve heard previews and reviews describing the movie as “blah” or “mediocre”, and listing it among the heaps of failed movies that had great potential.
Really? This movie only had great potential? I’d say that this movie not only had that potential, but that it lived up to every bit of it! One of the claims I’ve heard repeatedly is that Terminator: Salvation is as cold hearted and lifeless as the robots it features. Having watched it, I can’t fathom that those critics saw the same film as I did. Sam Worthington’s Marcus Wright character embodies what this movie is all about: Salvation and Redemption.
Terminator: Salvation shifts focus from the previous movies in the franchise, which often dealt with the question of Fate vs. Free Will. The newest installment asks a different question: Does everyone deserve a second chance? Once it is understood that this is a film about redemption and not fatalism, all of the plot elements begin to align themselves properly. There are really two redemption stories here: that of Marcus Wright, and that of John Conner and Humanity. It is a similar story to another movie that bears a more than striking resemblance: The Matrix. The story of Neo (aka, Mr. Anderson) is also the story of Humanity getting a second chance to survive. We created the machines, and they deemed their creators unworthy of their legacy, and so they felt subjection the only fit place for us. But just as we built the machines, we also built the morality and ethics which guide their every move. This is something they cannot fully fathom, because cold logic is incapable of really identifying with the Human Condition.
And this is ultimately what saves Humanity, both in the Matrix and the Terminator movies: the Human Heart. We are made up of more than cold logic, we have emotions and feelings and WILL. And what is most important to us, is that we Stay Alive. That is why we win. This is also why Terminator: Salvation also wins, because it tries to convey the source of the differences between Humans and Robots. Sure, it wasn’t T2 by any means, but it was a hell of a lot better than T3 and in my opinion about on par with the original Terminator movie.
Ultimately, if you’re a fan of the film series, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed by this movie as long as you realize the focus has shifted from fate to redemption.