The man responsible for 'Charlie's Angels' - and worse 'Charlie's Angels Full Throttle' - getting the chance to direct a 'Terminator' movie? If you weren't ecstatic about the appointment of Joseph 'McG' McGinty Nichol, and felt that you might spend the next few years watching the first two movies in tears after sitting through his one, well, it was understandable. But while he's probably too rich from and happy after this to be bothered, McG deserves an apology: he's done a good job here.
The story begins in 2003 with killer Marcus Wright (Worthington) awaiting death by lethal injection and signing documents donating his body to Cyberdyne Systems. Fast forward 15 years and resistance leader John Connor (Bale) and other Judgement Day survivors (Howard, Bloodgood, Common) are locked in their war of attrition with the machines. Connor's superiors say they have discovered a frequency which could disable the terminators and are ready to test it out. He says he's the man for the job, but has a more personal mission, too: to find Kyle Reese, the soldier who will travel back in time to become Connor's father. A teenage Reese (Yelchin) is hiding out in Los Angeles with a little girl (Berry) as his only ally. That is until a stranger emerges from the rubble and offers to bring them to the resistance. His name is Marcus Wright.
It's a great feeling when you walk out of the latest movie in a franchise wondering, 'When is the next one coming out?' and that's what happens here. With moments of awe that equal anything the previous 'Terminator' movies had to offer, '...Salvation' is a too-short white-knuckle ride which will make up for the disappointment some felt with 2003's '...Rise of the Machines'. There is one phenomenal action scene after another and the CGI used to create them ranks with the very best ever put on the big screen. You'll see clever nods to the earlier movies, 'Aliens', 'Apocalypse Now' and 'The Great Escape' and, like all of them, repeat viewing will be guaranteed for many.
As for the heroes, they need some work for next time. Oddly enough, it's not Bale who's the real star but newcomer Worthington, who brings a depth and intensity to the conflicted Marcus Wright which the other characters don't have. Howard, playing Connor's wife and Bloodgood, playing their comrade, are underused and given how strong the female hero was in previous films, this is a big disappointment. Also missing between the blazing set pieces are more dialogue and longer pauses for breath - the aforementioned 'Aliens' had plenty, and the intensity was heightened because of them.
If those shortcomings are addressed, McG & co will be on their way to a classic in a few years. Right now, they may have made the blockbuster of your summer.