Not really; maybe Balesome, for Bale/John Connors was not the central character of Terminator Salvation. The story is about the missing Terminator link, Marcus Wright. And the story is not that bad. In fact, aside a few gratuitous and pointless action sequences, I enjoyed the movie. True, I could still be shell-shocked from Star Trek’s so-called-plot, and anything might looks good at this point.
But no, there’s more than that; here we are presented with a character we can connect with. We may start out with mixed feelings about Marcus, but it does not take long to get us interested in his story, to establish a connection with his persona.
Of course anyone who has watched the trailers know what he is, but that just serves to form a stronger bond between the character and the audience as we follow him along the path of self-discovery. Unfortunately it’s difficult for the audience to connect with the rest of the cast.
Bale is a passable laryngitis-struck version of John Connors, but his main role is to react to Marcus. There are attempts to show he has some kind of leadership characteristics, but they are not enough to establish credence the character is a resistance leader. Although, he does bring more credence toward his eventual role of resistance leader than Chris Pine brought to the character of Kirk as a Starship Captain.
I think the role of Kyle was miscast; Yelchin was passable as Chekov in Star Trek, but he did not bring to this role the intensity of the Kyle we know. In fact, he seemed to reprise his Chekov role (minus the overdone accent). By the way, I don’t get why the machines would not have killed Kyle immediately upon finding him. No real good explanation was given, and if the aim was to get rid of both Kyle and John at the same time, all it would have taken is a booby-trapped cell.
The only other character with potential of connecting with the audience was Blair (Moon Bloodgood ) but her role is also tied to Marcus. Oh, wait . . . the T-800 makes an appearance. They obviously liked that particular CGI angle because the fight between the T-800, John, and Marcus drags on much longer than needed. Again, given the elaborate and long-term planning by SkyNet, it seemed rather shoddy to leave the outcome up to one unit, and to have no backup plan at all.
It took me a little while to realize the movie is nowhere near human-victory-over-the-machines in the Terminator franchise timeline, but once I did the plot was easy to figure out, and the ease of figuring out stuff detracted a bit from any suspense or surprise for the last 30-40 minutes of the movie. That’s also where the plot gets a little thin, up to and including the act of self-sacrifice by Marcus.
This is my only complaint with the movie. It’s obviously a set-up for a sequel, but they got rid of the only character I connected with, and there is little left to build a sequel on aside Connor himself, and we (I) still need to be shown he is a worthy leader and savior of mankind. Sure, we know that’s his role, but it would be nice to see some evidence he is fulfilling it. Rather than the beginning of a series, this is very much a stand-alone movie, and we’ll have to look to the next one (if they have a next one) to establish a rapport between the core characters (at this point only John) and the audience.
Perhaps the hook will be the story of John and how dogs become an important line of defense guarding against human-looking terminators. They’ll call it Terminator Old Yeller, with Yeller sacrificing himself to keep a still floundering John alive in the hope one day John will be able to speak clearly and inspire someone, anyone, with his leadership abilities.