When John Connor (Jason Clarke), leader of the human resistance against Skynet, sends Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back to 1984 to protect his mother, Sarah (Emilia Clarke), from a Terminator assassin, an unexpected turn of events creates an altered timeline. Instead of a scared waitress, Sarah is a skilled fighter and has a Terminator guardian (Arnold Schwarzenegger) by her side. Faced with unlikely allies and dangerous new enemies, Reese sets out on an unexpected new mission: reset the future.
What I find most peculiar is the audience this film is attempting to cater to. It tries to be a reboot, thus bringing in new fans while also attempting to continue the ongoing storyline. Let's try to put this bluntly: the story basically erases all the previous movies from existence. It then decides to transform John Connor into a Terminator for the film's antagonist. Sound insane? That's because it is. The writing just doesn't do a good job explaining any of it. There's a brief scene with Sara Connor telling Kyle Reece about this timeline mishap. It's meant to inform the viewer, but instead of the viewer going "Oh wow!" it's "Wait what?" It doesn't get any less confusing as the story goes along. Interestingly, the film's first act even attempts to retell the events of the first two installments. New fans will be almost completely lost, and longtime watchers will be alienated by the poorly written time travel aspect.
What the film does succeed in is action. This was one of the most fast paced films of 2015. Much like Judgement Day, the film never lets go of its fast pace. The fight scenes are all excellent and contain a large amount of tension. One of the best scenes for example is when T tells Sarah Connor "I'll be back" before skydiving into the helicopter. The final fight with John Connor is great because the viewer knows T is severely outclassed, so it's fun seeing how the heroes will get out of it since it's impossible to think of a logical reason. As for the cast, they aren't bad...but are they good? Kyle Reece wasn't a terrible focus throughout. Generic for sure, but not horribly so. Sarah Connor has always been more on the crazy side, and Emilia Clark does a solid job recapturing that from the older films. (Though, can someone please tell me why "bite me" is even a saying?) The romance between the two was pretty bad and poorly developed. The obvious highlight is Arnold Schwarzenegger, whom after all these years can still play an excellent T-800. (I will also give the story credit for at least trying to present a reason why a robot would age.)
Later in the story Reece and Sarah travel to 2017. At this point the story takes a jab at how much we're invested in the internet. If computers become so advanced and we're willing to accept basically anything when it comes to being "plugged in," can we unknowingly let them take over? It's fascinating how the story manages to squeeze in this allegory amidst the chaos. The soundtrack is very strong, as expected from a Terminator film. The tension is given even greater depth in each of the fight scenes thanks to the themes.