IN TERMINATOR Genisys, the misfiring reboot of James Cameron’s apocalyptic time-travelling saga, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cyborg assassin repeatedly references his advancing years in a dystopian world of young pretenders.
Alas, both the hulking Austrian action man and the blockbusting franchise are ready for the scrapheap.
Millions of dollars of special effects cannot disguise the fried circuitry of Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier’s script, which uses the muddled concept of alternate universes to explain tweaks to the Terminator origin story.
Released in 1984, The Terminator tapped into timely concerns about nuclear warfare to explore a bleak future, in which machines have rebelled against mankind, rendering the species almost obsolete. Terminator Genisys follows a similarly gloomy trajectory.
In the aftermath of Judgment Day, mankind faces complete extinction at the hands of the automata.
Rebel leader John Connor (Jason Clarke) leads the charge in 2029 Los Angeles, flanked by best-friend Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney).
“You gave us all a future, John. I’m going to use mine,” proudly declares Kyle, who volunteers to venture back to 1984 to protect John’s mother Sarah (Emilia Clarke) from a shape-shifting T-1000 (Byung-hun Lee).
When he arrives, he discovers he has gatecrashed an altered timeline, in which Sarah Connor is a ballsy warrior who already has a protector: an ageing T-800 (Schwarzenegger), which she refers to affectionately as “pops”.
Sarah, Kyle and the T-800 launch an assault on Cyberdyne Systems run by Miles Dyson (Courtney B Vance) and his son Danny (Dayo Okeniyi): unwitting creator of Skynet, mankind’s downfall.
However, someone knows they are coming.
Terminator Genisys attempts to mimic Jurassic World by exploiting our nostalgia, but Alan Taylor’s film has neither the thrills nor the wry humour of the rampaging dinosaurs.
The multiple timelines become a tangled, knotty mess before the two hours are up, making us wish that Skynet had, in an alternate universe, infected the scriptwriters’ computers with a virus and wiped this film from their hard drives.
Action sequences feel second-hand: duels between different model Terminators were choreographed with more flair in previous films and the culmination to a chase across the Golden Gate Bridge whiffs of The Lost World: Jurassic Park.
The end – including an additional scene secreted in the credits – can’t come soon enough.