Film review: Terminator Salvation

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LIKE Marcus Wright, the machine that thinks it's human in Terminator Salvation, mono-monikered mayhem-maker McG genuinely believes this fourth instalment of the increasingly pointless sci-fi saga is some kind of heartfelt work of art, rather than another product of the creatively bankrupt Hollywood machine.

However, mimicking the sombre tone, the angst-ridden characterisation and the washed-out colour palette of artful blockbusters such as Children of Men and Christopher Nolan's Batman films can't cover up the mechanical way every protagonist is developed, every plot point is executed and every action beat is delivered. Christian Bale's infamous onset hissy fit revealed McG wasn't exactly the one calling the shots on set, and the finished film proves he's fairly inept at getting anything approaching a compelling performance out of his actors.

As John Connor, leader of the resistance against the Skynet, the computer system that has turned the world of 2018 into a post-apocalyptic battleground between man and machine, Bale glowers his way through his scenes, his trademark intensity almost slipping into self-parody. It's dull to watch, and new boy Sam Worthington isn't much better. Sharing top billing, the newly anointed Australian star fails to shine on screen, leaving Star Trek's Anton Yelchin as the young Kyle Reese (Connor's future father) to deliver the only thing approaching a proper performance. Alas, his brief screen time is marred by too many stupid plot points, not to mention a cute mute kid who is by his side at all times. Action sequences that are little more than amped-up, chop-shopped hybrids of Mad Max 2 and Transformers aren't enough to distract from the chasm-like logic gaps, ensuring that this supposedly credibility-restoring resurrection of the franchise feels more like a crucifixion. Let the human resistance start here.