Most film series have an over-riding feel or theme that unify them and when they move away from it the results are often fatal. For the Terminator series it’s all about dreams. The first is an outright nightmare, the second is like a daydream that startles you awake and the third always felt tinged by John Connor’s insomniac paranoia. That they also place memories of possible futures and actual dreams front and centre only re-enforces this feeling. The forth film tried but lost this and the franchise became yet another action yarn.
Terminator Genisys doesn’t even bother. It’s about fan service and convoluted (i.e. dumb) plotting. It ends up offering nothing more than it’s existence and none of it is convincing. Take Jai Courtney; Kyle Reese is no longer a battle scarred, half-starved soldier on a desperate mission, he’s now ‘generic action guy’ and interchangeable with countless others. This goes for most of the film and, to be honest, if you hadn’t seen those spoilertastic trailers you’d still know exactly what’s coming.
Disappointing, but you already knew that didn’t you.
Beaming like a child.
Like John Wick (2014), Mad Max: Fury Road works because it moves. Director George Miller understands that and keeps the metal barrelling onwards without sacrificing detail or character. In short it’s a joy to watch and possibly the best thing you’ll see on the big screen this year.
But the real surprise is not the physicality, the sheer artistry of the CGI or the way in which Miller uses action to drive the plot, but the confidence that pours out of the screen. A confidence that gives us a beloved title character, muzzles him for a good portion of the movie, sidelines him so much that it feels like the film could be named after someone else and yet still remains undoubtedly recognisable and utterly satisfying. It’s partly thanks to Tom Hardy’s lack of vanity in taking on the iconic role as written (contrast this with Christian Bale’s need to play John Connor and the dismal results), it has a lot to do with Charlize Theron giving us an instant sci-fi classic in Imperator Furiosa but, at the end of the day, it’s all about a director with complete control of the world he created.