This declining franchise really needed a jolt to the head, but the producers disappointingly opt to play it safe with an unambitious script and child-friendly action. After the OK part 3 (2003's Rise of the Machines) and a weak part 4 (2009's Salvation), this film is unlikely to win new fans or keep the old ones hoping for more. Even though it's made to a high technical standard, the movie feels derivative and safe, avoiding any properly dangerous tension for a series of badly contrived action set-pieces.
It opens in 2029, as plucky rebel John Connor (Jason Clarke) is fighting the world-dominating Skynet machines with the help of his right-hand man Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney). When Skynet sends a Terminator (the young Arnold Schwarzenegger) back to 1984 Los Angeles to kill John's mother Sarah (Emilia Clarke), Kyle follows to rescue her. But he arrives to find the timeline already altered. Sarah had been attacked years earlier, rescued at age 9 and raised by an ageing Terminator she calls Pop (the present-day Arnie). Since everything has changed, Sarah and Kyle decide to jump forward to 2017 San Francisco so they can stop Skynet from taking over the planet with its Genisys operating system. But when they arrive, they realise that there's been even more jiggery-pokery in the timeline.
The way the film wraps in and around the 1984 original is clever, with added intrigue in the fact that Kyle and Sarah haven't yet fallen for each other and conceived John. So when he turns up in San Francisco, there are all sorts of mind-bending possibilities. Alas, the screenwriters can't be bothered to play with them. Instead they structure the film as a series of rambling expository conversations leading to yet another pointless flurry of explosive carnage. Honestly, if Terminators are literally indestructible, why bother trying to defeat them with guns? And yet everyone keeps shooting at them, just making them mad.
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