Terminator Genisys is not a reboot. Rather it’s a plunge into an entirely different timeline that takes a new-look Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back in time by John Connor (Jason Clarke) to save his imperiled mum, Sarah (Emilia Clarke). Except, thanks to an ageing, complexly-motivated T-800 standing sentry, she’s not as endangered as he might have imagined.
In an exclusive interview, Schwarzenegger trumpets the enduring power of a storyline that's stripped humanity back to its basic will to survive across three decades of jackknifing lorries, massive explosions and narrowly-avoided (or not) nuclear holocausts. But it wasn't always so. “I didn't know when I did the first Terminator that this would become such a popular franchise,” he remembers. “But you never know when you do a movie anyway. I mean, some movies, you do a Superman or a Batman, you know the franchise is already there, but with these kind of movies you don’t know.The story has changed,” that T-800, Arnold Schwarzenegger, explains, “so I am like a combination of the characters who you have seen in the past. He is a powerful and potentially evil kind of machine that can be very destructive if I see that a there is danger from me or for the victory against the machines. I can switch over to being the protector of Sarah Connor. It depends where we are in this storyline.
Terminator Genisys arrives in UK cinemas on July 3.
Kicking off in the Future War, with Jason Clarke’s battle-scarred, bitter John Connor, things appear normal for the Terminator franchise. But when Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) volunteers to go back in time and save John’s mother, Sarah (Emilia Clarke), he arrives to discover that the timeline has been tinkered with and things are very different.
This is not the be-permed, Everywoman Sarah we met in 1984’s The Terminator. Instead, this Sarah has lost her parents to a Terminator attack but raised by an ageing version of Arnie’s T-800. And Kyle will need her help when an Asian model of the morphing metal T-1000 threatens his life.
Together, Sarah and Kyle must figure out what has happened and find a way to once more stop Judgment Day from happening. There’s a lot to take in here: this thing is chock full of nods to the first two films (and, to a lesser extent, Salvation’s war-torn future), but some of them feel like channeling nostalgia in the hopes of drawing a reaction. Still, it’s fun to ponder Arnie taking on himself and all the little elements lurking within. We feel a little bad for Reese having to time travel in his birthday suit with everyone watching, but when you look like Jai Courtney, you probably don’t worry about that. Plus, director Alan Taylor and his team have clearly gone all out with the set pieces, though the Golden Gate Bridge must be wishing somewhere else would get a turn at chaos...