Pow! Blast! Annhilate! The action-packed, bullet-riddled popcorn pictures have officially arrived.
Re-imagined and re-branded, this fourth installment in the “Terminator” series begins in 2003, when a death-row inmate, Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington), is executed after granting his doctor (Helena Bonham Carter), a geneticist for Cyberdyne Systems, permission to use his body “for research.”
Skip ahead to 2018. Los Angeles is a bleak wasteland after Judgment Day as Skynet, the artificial intelligence network, dispatches a fearsome variety of robots to scour the post-apocalyptic landscape, collecting or killing the few surviving humans. As part of the Resistance, time-traveler John Connor (Christian Bale) is searching for teenage Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) who, according to Terminator mythology, will turn out to be his father in the future. Sound confusing? It is, particularly when “reborn” cyborg Marcus Wright inexplicably emerges from the rubble. Part-man/part- machine, he’s Connor’s only chance of succeeding in his mission. But can this hybrid-seeking-redemption be trusted?
“What are you?” Connor asks. “I don’t know,” Wright replies with total candor.
Under the aegis of McG (“Charlie’s Angels,” “We Are Marshall”), building on a script by John Brancato & Michael Ferris (and, allegedly, many others), the plot is punctuated by so many loud, fiery explosions that there’s little time for character development. Combat production designer Martin Laing and special effects supervisor John Rosengrant owe more than a few nods to ‘bot’ technology from “Transformers” and “Matrix.”
Meanwhile, trapped in the crossfire, are subsidiary characters played by Bryce Dallas Howard, Moon Bloodgood, Jadagrace Berry, Michael Ironside and Jane Alexander. In a cameo appearance as the T-800, Arnold Schwarzegger’s face is digitally grafted onto bodybuilder Roland Kickinger’s torso. Shane Hurlbut’s cinematography is stunning, making one wonder why, during filming last summer, Christian Bale spewed so much profanity at him in an embarrassing spat that was leaked on the Internet.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Terminator: Salvation” is a fast-paced, destructive 7, emerging as the first in the series to get PG-13 rating.