Terminator Salvation is a mess

Finally got to see Terminator Salvation. And what a mess it was. Every person concerned with the writing of the plot needs a swift kick up the arse. There were so many blatent plotholes and outright errors that TS came dangerously close to the idiocy that was ‘Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines’. And WATCH IT: spoilers ahead!

There are actually two major, no, wait – hilarious, glaring plotholes. First, Marcus Wright’s dead body gets stuffed with an ultra-modern infiltrator Terminator skeleton — even though Skynet is barely able to produce the T-800, the next step after the clunky T-600. So how the hell was Skynet able to manufacture that most excellent, slick, third generation infiltrator skeleton?

What’s that? Skynet didn’t build it, but scientist Serena Kogen did? OK, so then how the hell can her work — which preceeds Skynet — be more advanced than Skynet’s own handywork?

Sorry, got carried away, that too was a plothole so big that it hurt my eyes, but it was an aside. No, the first major plothole is that Skynet meant for Marcus Wright to get close to Kyle Reese, the teenager of 2018 who is to father John Connor, the ultimately succesful leader of the Resistance who will defeat Skynet. This we know, because Kyle Reese says so in The Terminator, the first movie of the series.

So Marcus Wright wakes up in 2018 — from where or what, actually? — and he manages to stumble upon Kyle Reese within just a couple of days. Skynet has been looking for the kid ever since the Russian nukes rained down on the continental US, but no matter. Marcus Wright is apparently also a magician.

Anyway, Wright encounters Kyle Reese. Reese identifies himself to Wright, but even though Skynet later in the movie personally tells Wright that he was constructed to infiltrate and get close to Reese, the computer chip inside Wright’s brain doesn’t go “*CLICK* TERMINATE!” when Reese identifies himself. Wright doesn’t kill him, no, he actually tries to keep Reese out of Skynet’s hands.

But it is obvious why Skynet would want Reese dead. Reese is sent back in time after Connor defeats Skynet and takes possession of the time machine Skynet built. Reese protects Connor’s mother, Sarah Connor, and he fathers Connor with her. So logic would have it that if Skynet kills Reese before he’s sent back in time, Connor will never exist and Skynet wins. Period.

And so there’s Reese, on the run with Skynet-made infiltrator Marcus Wright. No fewer than five Skynet-led robots and Terminators throughout the move get the chance to whack Reese with ease, but they don’t. Instead, he’s thrown into a transporter and sent off to Skynet’s headquarters in San Francisco. He’s there to be used as bait to lure John Connor to a certain death.

Here’s the major plothole, which I hope you saw coming: if the first damn Terminator to see Reese had simply capped a few into Reese’s head, Connor would never have existed! Not dead, never existed. Erased. Better than that, never conceived. Finito, fin, the end, Skynet wins.

But no. Instead, this perfectly logically thinking supercomputer somehow has a malfunctioning chip that goes “oops, that would end the franchise…” and goes through all the trouble of taking Reese prisoner and then luring Connor in, in order to experience the joy of having Connor killed by a new T-800 prototype?

It all makes absolutely no sense at all. Skynet gets the chance to end Connor’s life before it even starts, but it decides not to and have a little fun? Hardly the cold, calculating computer we know Skynet to be.

And then another thing. A question, really, which the writers ought to answer. How the hell does Skynet even know that it has to kill Kyle Reese? As far as I’m aware, Skynet is never told this. Reese gets sent back in time after the Resistance beats Skynet. Once there, and after his death, no one writes down anywhere that Reese is Connor’s dad. So how does Skynet know this? The more you think about it, the clunkier this movie plot gets.

I seriously hope that Halcyon ditches writers John Brancato and Michael Ferris for the next two instalments — if Halcyon or Warner Brothers are willing to finance them — in the franchise, because these guys need to get their heads checked. And Bale, Nolan and McG too, for not repairing the glaring mistakes.

But no. I just found this quote on Filmonic, from the mouth of director McG:

“I strongly suspect the next movie is going to take place in a [pre-Judgment Day] 2011, John Connor is going to travel back in time and he’s going to have to galvanize the militaries of the world for an impending Skynet invasion. They’ve figured out time travel to the degree where they can send more than one naked entity. So you’re going to have hunter killers and transports and harvesters and everything arriving in our time and Connor fighting back with conventional military warfare, which I think is going to be fucking awesome.”

You’ve got to be kidding me. This has to be a joke, a fuck up, McG kidding around with the interviewer. He can’t be serious about this. If he wants to direct a new Transformers movie, have him switch chairs with Michael Bay. Come to think of it, if McG was being serious, I think I’d rather have Michael Bay direct T5 and T6! I mean, it can’t get any worse.

I think I know why he would be playing with the idea of timewarping it all to a big city, pre-nuclear holocaust, though. It is because McG doesn’t seem to be able to get his head around the concept of a movie playing out in a destroyed world. In Terminator Salvation, you don’t get a feel for the destruction that has been wrought. You’re never fed a damning sense of what just happened — of billions of people dying within just 60 minutes.

The desolation, the despair, the relentless search for food and energy, the radiation that is everywhere, lurking in the shadows of each city ruin where the wind hasn’t blown to wipe away the fallout. McG has been unable to conceptualize it for the viewer. There’s no connection, just like there’s no effort being made to make a connection between the film’s characters and the viewers.

Throwing the movie back to a big city in 2011 would be a huge mistake, the more so because — as Kyle Reese so clearly explains in The Terminator — the Resistance captures Skynet’s time machine only after beating Skynet. So how can a beaten computer send armies of cyborgs, robots and droids to a city, when — oh, never mind. The whole idea is just ludicrous and I seriously hope McG was just toying around with the interviewer.

And one last thing. Throughout T2 and T3, the John Connor character is depicted as a reluctant hero at best. He doesn’t want Judgment Day to happen, and he is continuously full of doubt about the part he plays to save humanity. He says he doesn’t want the part several times in T2 and T3, yet suddenly in Salvation, he’s the tough kick-ass reincarnation of John Rambo, with the grunting Batman voice to boot.

Wrong model, Mr Bale. It would have been better if you had modeled John Connor in Terminator Salvation on the Quinn character of ‘Reign of Fire’; the accidental hero, the reluctant warrior who is full of doubt. But alas, now it is too late.