After being prevented from participating in part four by his pesky sojourn into politics, Arnold Schwarzenegger is back for the fifth Terminator movie, a reboot of sorts that revels in nostalgia for what came before.
The film follows the point of view of Kyle Reese (now played by Aussie actor Jai Courtney), a soldier from a machine-ravaged future who is sent back in time to protect Sarah Connor (Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke), future mother to the leader of the human resistance, John Connor (Jason Clarke, another Aussie).
It’s the exact same initial set-up as the first film, but from here the narrative wildly diverges from established continuity and previously unforeseen threats are encountered.
For Arnie fans (like me), there’s a lot to relish here — he’s clearly at ease in the role, and it’s his best post-politics performance since 2013’s underrated The Last Stand. The rationale for why the robot played by Arnold looks as old as he does makes a reasonable amount of sense, but very little else is explained satisfactorily.
The film relies heavily upon the drama of contradicting a storyline it expects audiences to be familiar with, but never properly addresses how or why such a divergence occurred. It makes the plot feel more like a shadow than a continuation, and prevents the film from gathering any of its own narrative momentum, even amongst the otherwise impressive large-scale action scenes.
The endless call-backs to the first two films are fun for fans (again, like me), but lay bare how the film really only succeeds as a reverent ode to Mr Schwarzennegger’s most iconic role.