This isn’t going to be your run-of-the-mill review of Terminator Salvation. It’s not a perfect movie, by any means. Christian Bale, while still a sexy beast, is a bit overwrought. Plus, the predictability factor is pretty high. Still, I was impressed with the action, effects and director McG‘s use of color and visual symbolism. Hunky Sam Worthington as the cyborg with a heart of gold (and steel) gives the most compelling and psychologically interesting performance in the film by far. Though I also found myself drawn into the enormity of being John Connor. Fate, destiny and time-traveling killer robots have created who he is. He never had a chance to grow up as anything but John Connor, Savior. His most powerful moment isn’t when he’s yelling orders and saving the day. It’s when he begins to question his own programming and propaganda. But beyond all these things, Terminator Salvation passed my main science fiction test. Did it make me think about the future and my place in it?
The answer is yes. I couldn’t help wondering who I would be in the bleak Terminator future. Would I be a kick-ass resistance guy, punching robots, blowing things up and saving the world? Or would I be the kind of guy who lives underground, scraping and scavenging out a life in hiding? Or am I the guy who didn’t make it past the first wave of attacks? Some of my favorite sci-fi stories, from Star Wars to Alien to Battlestar Galactica to Gattaca, have inspired similar thoughts and introspection. Who would I be in extraordinary circumstances? Who am I now? It baffles me when critics or naysayers dismiss science fiction. As an art form, it not only shows us who we are, but what we could be. It’s a prism through which we see different aspects of ourselves. Though Terminator Salvation is not high art in the science fiction genre, it’s still a thought-provoking and purposeful chapter in an epic story. And it made me wonder, “What if?” And that’s not a bad reaction to have to any movie, sci-fi or not.