Cyberpunk Review » Terminator Salvation

June 4, 2009

Terminator Salvation

Movie Review By: Mr. Roboto

Year: 2009

Directed by: McG

Written by: John D. Brancato & Michael Ferris

IMDB Reference

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: High

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: High

Key Cast Members:

  • John Connor: Christian Bale
  • Marcus Wright: Sam Worthington
  • Kyle Reese: Anton Yelchin
  • Kate Connor: Bryce Dallas Howard
  • Blair Williams: Moon Bloodgood
  • Dr. Serena Kogan: Helena Bonham Carter
  • Rating: 8 out of 10

    John Connor

    “I knew it. I knew it was coming. But this is not the future my mother warned me about. And in this future, I don’t know if we can win this war. This is John Connor.”

    Overview: After the train wreck that was Rise of the Machines, one would think that, with “salvation” in its title, this would be a return to the glory days of Judgement Day.

    Not quite there.

    Note: The Star rating is based on the cyberpunk content of the movie, not it’s quality. Personally, it would only be a 4 or 5 out of 10.

    Salvation is better than T3, but still falls short of T2. Maybe it’s because of the way it is presented. From the trailers one gets the impression that Salvation would be about John Connor’s rise to leadership of the the human resistance. In actuality, Connor’s rise is more of a side-story…


    The Story: The movie starts in a death-row jail cell in 2003, where a murderous convict named Marcus Wright awaits execution. He is being visited by Dr. Serena Kogan who wants Wright to donate his body to “science.” Wright agrees and signs the papers (with Cyberdyne letterhead) before being put to death.

    Now, it is 2018, and John Connor leads an assault on a Skynet facility. Connor’s team is exterminated while he barely escapes, but someone else manages to leave the facility after the devastation, Marcus Wright. Wright wanders the wastelands until he reaches what’s left of Los Angeles, and encounters a young teen named Kyle Reese. Meanwhile, Connor has his own problems with the current leaders of the human resistance, then learns that he is on Skynet’s hit list, number two behind Kyle Reese.

    Wright tries to get help Reese find Connor, but Reese and his deaf-mute friend are captured, leaving Wright to try to find Connor and possibly find a way to save Reese. When the two finally meet, we learn that Wright isn’t human… only Wright himself doesn’t know it …


    Who’s Salvation Is It Anyway? Like said before, Salvation isn’t about Connor’s or humanity’s salvation. Rather it’s about Wright’s salvation; His trial by post-nuclear fire in the robot ruled wastelands to learn that he is not a monster we are first lead to believe…

    Marcus Wright and Blair Williams

    “He saved my life. I saw a man, not a machine.” - Blair Williams

    After being shot down by Skynet’s forces, Blair Williams finds herself and her parachute tangled in a high-tension wire tower. Marcus finds her and helps her down to the ground. She asks if he is one of the good guys, but he says no. She tells him “You’re a good guy. You just don’t know it yet.” She soon falls in love with Wright as they travel back to Connor’s base, and even helps him escape when his mechanization is revealed.

    Later, after helping Connor rescue Reese (and some other captured humans), Connor is critically hurt and needs a new heart. Wright offers his. The last words we hear from him are along the lines of “there’s something about the human heart that can’t be programmed into a chip” (Quotes are still coming in). This act of sacrifice would complete Wright’s transformation from death row douchebag to a hero for the resistance. If only the same can be said for the rest of the movie.


    The Bottom Line: It’s hard to say that Salvation is bad. It’s not T3 bad, but no where near T2 level. Maybe if McG focused more on Wright’s story than Connor’s… that story would seem be more about salvation than Connor’s rise to resistance leader.

    Marcus Wright at Cyberdyne

    “Humans have a strength that cannot be measured. This is John Connor. If you are listening to this,you are the resistance.”


    June 4, 2009

    Hammerjack said:

    Thank you for posting a new review. It keeps this site alive.

    Jesse said:

    Thought this was painfully mediocre. Bale seemed like he was in a hurry to finish the film. His performance was so room temperature, so safe.

    Nothing seemed truly important or dangerous, therefore making the ups, downs - and inexorably the climax - putter out like a whimpering old truck. The action wasn’t bad. But it definitely provided little to nothing we haven’t seen before in hundreds of movies prior.

    It also failed to raise any profound questions or really get your mind tinkering with the possibility of any future-controversial topics; something any good cyberpunk film needs to do.

    If it weren’t for the metal skeletons shooting things, I would have no idea this had any relation to the Terminator series whatsoever.

    Very disappointing. I’m dreadfully surprised this scored higher than a 5 (on a good day maybe a 6) on this web site. I expected the standards to be a bit higher.

    Jesse said:

    Just noticed that little note up there…

    “Note: The Star rating is based on the cyberpunk content of the movie, not it’s quality. Personally, it would only be a 4 or 5 out of 10.”

    I was under the impression the star rating was the actual movie score and the Cyberpunk themes/visuals were not one in the same with the star rating.

    Feyhra said:

    Well I liked Sam Worthington and Anton Yelchin, and Moon Bloodgood had potential as well. Terrible shame that McG(WTF kind of name is that?) got so blinded by his desire to have Bale in this that he let him walk right over him, and the movie. If ever there was someone whose ego got the better of him, it’s Christian Bale. Too bad because I used to respect him as an actor.

    This could have easily been so much better..

    Times like this make me wish that James Cameron would return to this franchise.

    Salvation is better than T3, but that isn’t really saying a whole lot. For all the pretty eyecandy(and this film did LOOK superb) I still felt more involved watching The Sarah Connor Chronicles than this.

    Terminator has always been more about the characters for me. That has been forgotten somewhere along the way.

    Damn shame.

    CallMeFrank said:

    thanks for the review. While I can sort of understand everyone’s dissatisfaction with the film, I still think it was pure terminator goodness. And I also think it was pure cyberpunk. It’s unfair to compare it to Cameron’s T2. That film stands out as the KING because the Terminator experience was relatively new and of course Cameron’s execution was masterful. But let’s not get too tied up with Cameron. Just like the Alien saga, Ridley Scott was masterful, and the Aliens sequel was equally enjoyable in a completely different way. We shouldn’t expect the story to be told in the same way, especially when it spans over a decade.

    Let’s not forget that as far as story goes, this is the 1st in a trilogy. I’m not crazy about trilogies at all, but it is what it is. So any plot holes or lack of character development shouldn’t be judged too harshly until at least the next Terminator.

    What I enjoyed so much about Salvation was

    A) the cinematography and locations, which gave me a real sense of desolation and inevitability. The Greys, blacks and Gunmetal colors and the vast desert highways of California.

    B) The pacing. I paid attention to the way I felt while watching it, and It was almost like watching Ridley Scott’s Alien for the first time in theatre. Thoroughly exciting. Something about it had a ‘fuck you this ain’t a love story attitude to it.’

    C) Guns N Roses, and Alice in Chains, which I loved and associate with Terminator thanks to T2.

    D) many may have problems with Christian Bale, but I think he was fine. I fail to see how his Ego could ruin a film. Isn’t he suppose to do what the director tells him to?

    Of course it could have been better. It wasn’t a flat out masterpiece like other Cyberpunk films I could mention, but you know what, it was a breath of fresh air for me to finally get something I wanted on the big screen after all these years. Transformers just doesn’t cut it for me :))

    Anon said:

    Everyone by now should have heard of Bale’s famous angry rant that came from the set of this film. I think more people than not would agree that this film should be about Marcus and not John Connor if not for the fact that Marcus’ story is more compelling in this film than Connor’s. The fear with Bale’s ego, I think, is that it somehow influenced this movie to focus on Connor’s story rather than Marcus’. Which is a shame if true.

    Klaw said:

    Good review Mr. R, but I think even the cyberpunk ratings were a little too high for what it offered. I had a big issue with the endless “hackable terminals” in the machine bases, and video screens… this isn’t the Matrix where interface technology is necessary to control humans, it would have zero interface whatsoever and perhaps could have operated completely wirelessly with no terminals at all. Unfortunately as the story unfolded it was sort of necessary for a “Meet your maker” Frankenstein-lite tale, but I do agree Marcus was more interesting than Connor’s story… and they simply should have picked one of them and focused exclusively on that.

    Utopiah said:

    8/10 justified by its “CyberPunk content” ?

    Honestly, Skynet is behind this review, admit it ;)

    June 5, 2009

    Bax said:

    The story would have been cooler if it didn’t start with Dr. Serena Kogan visiting Marcus Wright on death row and giving us the obvious heads up he’s going to be a cyborg. Instead it should have just started with Marcus emerging from the rubble of a prison as a nameless survivor seeking out Connor, with the fact he’s a cyborg to be revealed as a plot twist late in the film.

    Anyway, is it worth the 10 bucks to see it with my family?

    Anonymous said:

    lol Bax. Its definitely worth 10 bucks. But leave the kids home.

    June 6, 2009

    Feyhra said:

    Yeah, definitely worth seeing on the big screen, Bax. Even with my reservations it’s still great movie visually. And, I mean, it’s another Terminator movie, ain’t it? Gotta be seen big while you got the chance.

    Jesse said:

    I would honestly say, no, it isn’t worth ten bucks. Not at all. I’d Netflix it. I wouldn’t even pay 4 bucks to rent it.

    BNCol said:

    I did appreciate the Marcus’ story, i though it was fine to leave Connor aside (we already know him a lot), and i’ve found the story, events, and machines coherent with others movies and even video games (Future Shock).

    Two surprises : those terminals (for humans ?) in the machine’s place, and the Connor’s base remains unfound by the machines…

    But after all, in the game Future Shock, we could find T800’s waiting in front of terminals too (using them ?)…

    I loved the movie.

    June 7, 2009

    qJohnnyp said:

    I enjoyed T4 very much and consider it a good movie. Marcus’ character feels deep and explores the classic Cyberpunk theme: what makes us human? I actually didn’t care much for Connor, maybe that made the impression of the movie better than others’…
    Some of the scenes in this movie are it’s salvation from my critique, and though expectable, the plot twists of the movie are great and exciting.

    June 8, 2009

    Void said:

    I liked the visuals and the overall “feel” of the movie, but 4 out of 10 is the right rating IMO.

    June 9, 2009

    Mister EDgAr said:

    Yours Terminator movie ever!

    The movie should have been no more then 5 minute long..

    And here is the script:

    -Dude! Who are you?
    - John Connor
    - Who’s this guy?
    - That’s John Connor!
    - And just who do you think you are budy?!
    - I am John Connor!

    * Insert amazing 3D and a virtual Schwartzy to hide the fact that this movie does not have a script and/or talented actors in it.

    The End.

    I’m so happy I downloaded it. It’s not worth $2.

    just terrible.

    June 10, 2009

    Adam Daub said:

    Refreshed to see them take the Terminator series in a somewhat different direction… but also sort of annoyed that it has nothing to do with the TV series.
    People are too harsh on it like they are on most new addition films. However, I don’t trust the majority of people’s opinions on films. If said majority thinks that movies like Sin City (I know, unrelated to cyberpunk)are fantastic it’s pretty obvious they crave terribly mediocre (but flashy) shit.

    I think the main issue with movies these days is everyone’s fixation on ‘plausability’. Anyone here who argues that T2 is the best of the series cannot argue that 90% of the action scenes are even remotely plausible. Remember that thing called the imagination? You might have read about it on wikipedia while doped out on your retard pills force-fed by either your negligent parents or money starving doctors.
    Mediocre culture is created by mediorce society. Do us all a favor and flush those mood stabilizers down the toilet so we can get a better Terminator sequel in the not-so-distant future.

    June 11, 2009

    S said:

    T1 is by far the best of the series, in my opinion. The dark visuals, lack of irritating little kids/crappy attempts at humor…Michael Biehn was also a total bad ass in this film.

    June 14, 2009

    Soulmaster said:

    I’d say it’s better than “Doom” movie. Doom gets 2 of 10 on my scale, so here goes.
    Spectacular action scenes, but with many things borrowed (you probably thought Final Fantasy: Advent Children during the motorcycle scenes, me too)
    Strong dramatic tension in the plot, absolutely lame solution. (Humanity is in state of total ass, Connor’s father captured likely to be turned into a machine, suddenly two guys come in and beat the shit out of everything, and rescue everybody. Yeah right. Sounds like Conan the Barbarian to me)

    - Marcus, i am the woman on the screen, and you are a machine! Har har har!
    - No, i r teh human!!1 I kill joo!!1
    - OMGWTF!?


    Soulmaster said:

    And i mean, this is NOT a CYBERPUNK way to HAVE IT.
    Turning somebody into a Strogg without notifying them is potentially good and cyberpunk, but saying then “it’s the heart that makes us human” ooohhh come ooonnnn now?
    Instead of thought-provoking message, we get a jug of st.Valentine bullshit?
    Everything in the plot was sacrificed to create “action” and “cool moments of triumph”, “good wins the bad”, this is so NOT thought-provoking, and so NOT cyberpunk.

    Well, at least there were visuals.

    June 15, 2009

    The Morganator said:

    Why is everyone so against T3??? I went to see it with my at the time mate and his bro,the day b4 we started year 10(10th grade) in 2003,in an empty cinema apart from a few other people.remember walking out and thinking hmm that was mediocre and tried to be like T2 too much.It is what it is.Not a bad way to spend your last day of the summer holidays though lol!

    Is salavation worth shelling out £30+ for train,food,ticket etc though?

    June 16, 2009

    Carnival Of Mayhem said:

    It’s ok but Exterminator City was more fun than Terminator Salvation .

    June 20, 2009

    doc said:

    It Was All A Marcus Wright Show. Sam Worthington Replaces Arnold Schwarzenegger As The Protagonist In This Fourth Installment. Worthington, I Think, Is A Good Replacement But Christian Bale As John Connor - Bad ! I Don’t Know If They’ll Make Another After This. If They Do Though, Sam Should Be Back ! The Special Effects Were Good But Overall, This Fourth Installment Lacks The James Cameron Presence.

    mattness said:

    I waited very long time to see T:S. It wasn’t bad but I still will have to wait for cool (this one was… “decent” IMHvO) sequel of Terminator IP.

    Script is f*cked by so many wrtiters rewrites (I should blame Bale for that - according to imdb McG offered him role of this cyborg, but he insisted on playing Connor).

    I was waited for ubercool Sarah Connor, didn’t get it, I waited for machine-human war - didn’t get it. I wated for story HOW John became humanity main hope - didn’t geet it :( .

    + Mototerminators
    + Hunter Seeker flying through LA skyscrapers
    + the way Reese killed T600
    + cyborg guy actor, and Bale as Connor
    + “If you’re listin to this you are Resistance”

    - Reese (sorry, I don’t like this actor)
    - Bale Shouting Through Radio (BIG THUMBS DOWN)
    - Skynet as women on screen - suxx arse big time ;( - it was almost as hopeless as Architect in Matrix 2 ((BIG THUMBS DOWN x Infinity + 1 :/ )

    For me T:S was just preludium, prologue, 70 min+ trailer that need recut and writer with cojones.

    I hope there will be T5 soon, and it will be soon. Will I get it? I’m too old to believe…

    Dave said:

    Better off skipping this flick. This has become a fan-boy based franchise — it doesn’t need a plot or a serious script — it doesn’t need good acting or thought provoking story. Since the terminator franchise has such a large fan base ALREADY — they can shovel out complete garbage and still be a financial power-house. Why? Because financial profit has become synonymous with cinematic success — even if the film is total trash. I’m not saying the film was total trash — but it certainly falls into the category of forgettable mediocrity. But it was tough shoes to fills.

    June 23, 2009

    Anonymous said:

    Dave you nailed it.

    June 25, 2009

    Stormtrooper of Death said:

    Anyhow, i gonna rent it , as soon as it pops up in our local video stores.

    July 12, 2009

    Schroeder said:

    Oh, come on! It wasn’t all that bad. What did you think you will see? A fucking thing that wasn’t be seen on a widescreen before? Remember, this is 2009. Everything you can imagine is still made.

    The experience of watching something revolutionary new and unexpected is history for now. Next step of evolution in filmmaking is not cgi and explosions for sure. But what else could Terminator be made of? Be honest. It is a real 2009 Terminator movie.

    And for this, it is a pretty good movie. But the concerns about Wright/Connor imbalance are completely true. I must admit that.

    July 27, 2009

    pAul_pOt said:

    I absolutely agree with Schroeder, after T1 and T2, there isn’t really anything that a sequel could do to get even close to those “legends”.

    But for me, personally. it was great! Not as a terminator-movie, but as a post apocalyptic, fallout series like flick.
    Just take the scene when Marcus Wright arrives at L.A. and realizes what the world has become…that whole feeling was just so..fallout!
    Also there wasn’t any time travel stuff, so at least it couldn’t screw up the timeline anymore! And this kept the whole movie in this awesome setting, which in my opinion, only Mad Max and Hardware were also able to convey.

    July 31, 2009

    Anonymous said:

    The Title For The Fifth Movie Should Be: “Fanboys: Chris and Sam”

    August 1, 2009

    Christopher said:

    It would be really helpful if cyberpunkreview would also take some normal quality criteria into account and not just how cyberpunky it is. So far I simply can’t take these ratings as serious recommendations. It is well known that Terminator Salvation was a disappointment and probably a bad idea to begin with. Yet here is a top rating, just because of some natural relationship to cyberpunk.
    Maybe I have wrong expecations on a site like this. But I wanted to mention that cyberpunk is substituted to art, and if the artwork is disappointing, it’s no use that it holds the flag of cyberpunk high.

    Christopher said:

    Erm, it seems I meant “subordinated” not “substituted”. Sorry.

    August 8, 2009

    u64 said:

    8/10 ??! are you mentally ill?

    I gave it 4/10. For comedy/parody.

    Why the f- are the Terminators always tossing people around? Snap thier neck when they get in your grasp.

    At one point they talk and things are fairly silent. Then suddenly the huge noisy robot suddenly appear. They didnt hear it?! wtf. so silly (facepalm)

    August 9, 2009

    SP|Dzodzo said:

    what was it with this lovestory at all? i understand there was a relationship reeseconnor in the first T movie but it was just so cold as the steel of Terminator skeleton, no heartbreaking scenes, without this junk, the movie would score maybe a point more but even so it’s like 4/10 with me

    Carnival Of Mayhem said:

    Exterminator City had more robots and action than Terminator Salvation!

    September 2, 2009

    Kiddo said:

    8 out of 10? Are you kidding me?

    September 17, 2009

    Olddo said:

    Hey, it seems that this movie isn’t in the ‘movie ratings’ part of this website, just to tell you.
    I still have to watch this movie by the way.

    October 5, 2009

    ice said:

    i watched this movie in theaters in farmington it pretty good

    October 30, 2009

    Cyber_robot said:

    hummmm yeah you said it lacks the james cameron’s presence but the third wasnt from james neither so maybe you should check back your comment

    November 1, 2009

    Sten said:

    This movie is abysmal.

    This movie, on top of being shameful to the terminator saga, is also very weak.

    The cyberpunk aspect is totally dull, the universe is worthless : people living in irradiated cities and killing terminators with machine guns …

    Summing up the Terminators movies in a few seconds of text is both unrespectful and confusing

    Not showing the actual Judgement day and how the resistance is created ? NO
    John connor now being a GI Joe dude ? NO

    This script is bad and I failed to understand the plot. This movie tries to talk about peoples emotions, when it should have been about creating an atmosphere, a fear of the Machine.

    Kunstler said:

    I was greatly disappointed by this movie. It has so many logical flaws and absurd scenes, that it will take too much time just to name them all.
    T3, at least, didn’t take itself too seriously. But this piece of shit even makes fun of cyberpunk philosofy with its awful ending: the answer to the question, what differs man from machine, is simple - Heart. If it has biological heart, then it’s definitely a human. If not, it’s machine.
    And if you consider that artificial hearts are implanted even today, we must face the fact that there are living and intelligent machines among us! OH SHI~

    December 3, 2009

    Truth_Seeker said:

    I don’t understand the negativity towards that movie. I think it was awesome. The main criticism agaist is that:

    1.There wasn’t enough action - nearly half of the movie consisted of excellent action sequences, which were no worse than those from “Judjement Day” or “Rise Of The Machines”. In addition there were like a dozen different terminator models.

    2.The story had nothing to do with the previous movies - this is a completely new story, showing the events after Judjement Day. The lack of time travel and terminators in leather jackets doesn’t necessarily make it a bad one.

    3.No Arnold - come on, the guy is 62 years old and has a state to govern.

    January 2, 2010

    Carl said:

    I think McG made the T4 too-action oriented, the action is part of the overall result in the struggle against Skynet’s genocidal war, instead of spectacle.
    To do a successful Terminator movie, the essential elements of T1 and T2 have to be distilled, re-imagined and redeployed with innovations (scifi, noir horror), a new element could be introduced to reboot T1’s universe. If we call it an “upgrade”, if the basic T1 T2 are exhausted as story raw materials, then the franchise can not move forward.
    T5 could follow Star Trek’.

    January 29, 2010

    InterApex said:

    I thought the effects and visuals were awesome.

    The story was utter crap though, I fully agree with some of the above statements about needing to focus on marcus’s story.

    The idea actually being a machine without knowing it, (the sworn enemy of the human race) leading up to the dramatic revealing, and the mental confusion that results is an excellent story, but they did a terrible job really capturing that feeling.

    If anyone saw the Second GITS movie, when Togusa is tricked in the third cycle of Kim the Hackers VR trap, he is tricked with the image of him as a machine, its such an interesting notion. The effect of a realization like that.

    I heard they changed the ending of T4 from the original because of the script leak?

    I heard rumors that Conner and Marcus were to be merged in the end of the movie, instead it was:

    Conner: Hey I need a Heart!
    Marcus: Oh Hai I got 1!!
    Conner: Wow neat, “its really strong” (lame)
    Marcus: Thx Here U can have it!
    Conner: O wow thx, wouldn’t have wanted to die and leave the resistance without its self important leader.
    Marcus: naw its cool, I’ll just die over here next to this car or something.

    January 31, 2010

    Burnt_lombard said:

    Just watched this movie and it was DUMB! It felt like it was written by 6th graders that heard of Science Fiction and were only given a week, to pound out a script.

    That would explain why Marcus is awakened by a huge explosion that destroyed everything else. Love how he is unscathed from a bomb, but later a landmine tears off his flesh. Because that was the time to reveal he’s a terminator.

    And how about the finale with the leads setting off Nuclear bombs, then hovering above the NUCLEAR explosion in an exposed helicopter?!?! And the terminator decides to just hand his heart over. Let’s hope he’s the right blood type and Connors body won’t reject the new organ.

    September 17, 2010

    Wolfblood said:

    Kind of okay but still Burnt_lombard is right there losing ideas

    December 21, 2010

    Lostgrave said:

    The soundtrack was good, I found a certain appeal in the grinding sound of the machines but the acting was ruthlessly poor and the story bereft of the luster contained in the first two films, but that’s possibly due to the passing of time and style.

    September 3, 2011

    Hellscion said:

    I have seen this movie twice, and don’t remember it… not very memorable.

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