Terminator Salvation (McG, 2009)

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Terminator Salvation begins with a dynamic and meticulous action scene of a Resistance-led aerial strike on a series of Cyberdyne satellites, and the thrilling result sets the bar high for the rest of the film. In this sequence, two ambitious long takes follow John Connor (Christian Bale) as he coldly maneuvers through the war zone as if the horrific surroundings are just another day at the office. Surprisingly, most of the film lives up to this opening crescendo of bleak apocalyptic imagery, mainly because director McG stages each key action sequence with this sort of layered bravado. Violent movement on different planes of the image wonderfully guide the viewer’s eyes back and forth, adding an epic uncertainty to the ongoing battle between man and machine without muddling the gravity of the fight. Which isn’t to say the film has much merit beyond the visuals. The terrible script relies on anticlimactic monologues by Connor to rally the troops, and the actors are given little room to breath, hammered down by illogical notions inherent in the series’ mythology. But Terminator Salvation is one of those rare action films bursting with pliable intensity.

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