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Directed by McG. Produced by Derek Anderson, Moritz Borman, Victor Kubicek, and Jeffrey Silver. Written by John Brancato and Michael Ferris. Release date: May 21, 2009.
Just six years after Terminator 3, it was decided that we needed a new Terminator movie. After declaring that Judgment Day was inevitable, it only made sense for the fourth movie to take place in the future, where humans would battle the machines for control of the planet. A big-name cast and a huge budget were given, although it wound up the least profitable installment to-date.
John Connor (Christian Bale): The soon-to-be leader of the Resistance, a position for which he has been groomed since birth. Son of Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese. Married to Kate. Takes over for Nick Stahl and Edward Furlong in the role.
Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin): A teenager who joins up with the Resistance. Eventually travels back in time to save Sarah Connor and become John's father. Time travel is weird, okay? Takes over for Michael Biehn in the role.
Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington): A human-Terminator hybrid experiment created by Skynet.
Kate Connor (Bryce Dallas Howard): John's wife. High-ranking member of the Resistance. A doctor. Takes over for Bryce Dallas Howard in the role.
T-800 (Roland Kickinger with CGI likeness of Arnold Schwarzenegger): The leading Terminator of the first three films, in Salvation it is created for the first time, once again taking on a villain role.
Years before the primary plot of Terminator Salvation, death row inmate Marcus Wright is selected to perform a medical experiment. He is to become part human, part Terminator - the precursor to the T-800, the iconic Terminator of the franchise. This is before Judgment Day. Years later, in 2018, John Connor, a member of the Resistance, leads the charge against a Skynet base. It's a failure, with the result leading to his entire crew being slaughtered and the base blowing up. The explosion awakens Marcus, who had been lying dormant for all this time.
John learns that the Resistance is planning on launching an assault against Skynet with a radio signal that will shut them down - planning to do so in four days' time after intercepting a kill list that says they will all die. Marcus fights with a Terminator, only to be saved by Kyle Reese, a teenager. Kyle informs Marcus of the war between humans and machines. They try to search for John and his crew, eventually getting taken captive in the process. Marcus escapes, and heads for John's base, albeit wounded. It's here where John discovers that he's part robot, and orders his execution. Marcus saves his life, partially earning his trust. If Marcus helps John enter Skynet HQ and save Kyle, he'll spare Marcus' life.
Upon entering HQ, it is revealed by Skynet that Marcus' creation was to lure John Connor into this very spot at this very time, and that the radio signal the Resistance found was a ruse. Skynet destroys the Resistance's HQ at this time, while Marcus and John have to fight the newly created T-800. They fight and destroy it, but John is injured in the process. He requires a heart transplant. Marcus volunteers, allowing John to survive and assume the role of leader of the Resistance.
Is It Any Good?
Terminator Salvation is the worst of the first four Terminator movies, and it's not even really a debate. There's nothing of interest here until the end, and even then, does anyone really care about the origin of the T-800? I wanted these awesome laser fights that future segments from the earlier films depicted, and instead I got a washed-out desert wasteland with mediocre CGI, cold human characters, and dull action scenes. Yawn.