Since the inception of the Terminator franchise, critics have attacked the movie’s twisty, paradox inducing logic.
In general, I’ve been able to explain away all the issues with the franchise…albeit with a thin and flawed thought process. But it’s an action movie, so we give it a little room to breathe and accept that it takes place in a world that doesn’t have to work with our physics.
Terminator Salvation is another story. In addition to being poorly written, poorly directed, and poorly edited, the movie simply makes no sense.
I’m not talking the time-travel element of the film. I’m talking basic logic. Beware, spoilers abound ahead. I would say avoid if you haven’t seen the film, but it might be best to know what you’re getting into from the start.
Let’s start with Marcus Wright. I’ll forgive all the unbelievable character motivations (like the question of what makes him sacrifice his life when he’s quite obviously little more than a badass out for self preservation, and he has no real reason to value John Connor’s life over his own).
I’m ruining the whole movie when I say that Marcus Wright turns out to be an agent of SkyNet. He has been sent by the master machine to lead John Connor into the lion’s den. It was subconscious programming; Wright didn’t even know he was doing it.
Except for one small problem. No action taken by Marcus Wright in any way leads to the completion of this mission. He randomly runs into Kyle Reese…an accident completely out of his (and SkyNet’s) control. When the machines capture Reese, it’s another random accident. And meeting Blair, the sexy soldier who brings Marcus to John Connor…yeah, that’s a random occurrence, too.
The only small act that could be considered “Marcus fulfilling his mission” is that he informs Connor that Reese has been captured. Once that information is revealed, it’s a given that Connor will stop at nothing to save his father. And this piece of information is obtained and revealed based solely on uncontrollable chance.
Nice programming, SkyNet…I guess you installed the “unbelievable coincidence” chip in your agent of evil, forcing him to do your bidding based solely on random chance.
So really, the only purpose Marcus Wright, the main character of the movie, serves is to let John Connor know that Reese has been captured. That could have been done with a radio transmission sent directly by SkyNet.
Oh yeah, I forgot…Marcus does serve another purpose. He gives his heart to John Connor (both figuratively and literally) so that the would-be leader can live!
Why is this necessary? Because John Connor WAS IMPALED THROUGH THE CHEST! Another unbelievable logic flaw…apparently if you are STABBED THROUGH THE HEART WITH A HUGE SPEAR, you can live long enough to get back to home base so your best-friend robot can get you back on your feet.
I guess the post apocalyptic world has made leaps and bounds in the world of battlefield triage/heart transplants. I sure hope Marcus and John are the same blood type and have compatible organs. That’s never really covered, but with such insane, mind-blowing ridiculousness going on, I won’t nitpick.
(As an aside, this “He can have my heart” scene is offensively bad and pandering. It’s a plot device of the worst kind that gets rid of Marcus and adds false drama about whether Connor dies…a question to which we already know the answer. Plus it is the most ham-handed “oh-by-the-way-here’s-the-theme-to-our-movie-that-we-just-made-up” event I’ve ever seen. Now back to the offensively bad story holes…)
Okay, I’m guessing that those of you still reading are wondering if I’m going to make good on the headline. Yes, I will.
There is one insane, logically bulimic element in this film that trumps the thin thinking of all other films. Here goes…
So, Skynet wants to kill Reese. If it can do that, John Connor is immediately blinked from existence. Hence putting Reese above Connor on the kill list.
Skynet, being the badass machine that it is, even manages to capture Kyle, but the boy has the sense to keep a low profile. I guess Connor’s task is to rescue his father before he gets recognized and killed, blinking the hero from existence, right?
Wrong. Soon after being captured, the Terminators identify Reese. We know this because we go into Terminator-Vision, and see text along the lines of “Identified: Kyle Reese.”
So then the Terminator shoots Reese in the head and the movie is over and the machines win, right?
Nah. That would be too easy. Instead, they put the kid in a private cell and use him as bait for Connor…neglecting the fact (which they seem to know) that Connor would go “poof” if they pointed a gun at him and pulled the friggin’ trigger.
Maybe Skynet doesn’t understand that killing the good guys without some elaborate time-travel scheme is as effective as sending Arnold Schwarzenegger back to the ’80′s…
Or maybe the movie is just dumb and makes no sense.
Maybe I’d be more forgiving if this were light popcorn fare, but this movie is dark and brooding and pleased as punch with its own cleverness. It deserves not one modicum of sympathy.
In the words of Kyle Reese…”There is no fate but what we make up as we go along.” At least that’s the version McG seems to have heard.