Maybe it”s because I watched “Man of Steel” for the first time before going to see “Genisys.” Or maybe it was because “Jurassic World” drastically lowered my expectations. But for whatever reason, I enjoyed “Terminator Genisys.” It was a perfectly serviceable action movie…
…but. There were still plot holes big enough to drive an armored truck through.
WARNING: SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT!
#1: Why are we time-traveling to the future?
There aren”t many baffling questions to this movie. Like it or loathe it, the internal logic ATTEMPTS to be consistent. Except the whole thing balances on a premise so precarious that a wisp of wind would push it over the logic event horizon. Why on GOD”S GREEN EARTH did Sarah Connor and Pops build a time machine to travel to 1997? Better yet, why would they travel to a mere few days before Skynet goes live in 2017? Why are they putting that kind of unnecessary pressure on themselves?
When Kyle Reese pops back in time to save Sarah Connor from a death at the hands of shiny metal robots, he finds the trousers of time have split in half and he”s visiting an alternate universe. One where a 20-year-old Sarah Connor not only knows about the impending Skynet apocalypse but has been actively preparing to take it down since she was in short pants. So far, so good. But why the actual hell would she want to travel forward in time to the year Skynet goes live when TIME IS MOVING FORWARD ANYWAY? Congratulations! You know exactly how the evil A.I. is going to come about. Why not use this information to kill the creator? Or blow up Cyberdyne in infancy? Or use your knowledge of the future to get in on the ground floor of Cyberdyne and stop it from the inside? Or any one of a hundred other ideas that don”t involve giving yourself a tiny window of time to stop the ultimate destruction of the entire human race?
Like Pops, they should”ve just taken the long way.
#2: How does Kyle Reese still exist?
The movie tries to answer this. John Connor postulates that yes, he CAN kill his parents and get away with it because they are “marooned in time.” The movie never mentions this again and it”s not clear how (or if) this works. Ready for a headache? Okay, here goes: John Connor is the product of Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese. But in this film both John and Kyle are from Universe A. They now inhabit new Sarah Connor”s Universe B. One in which John Connor is the “father” of Matt Smith Skynet. But Matt Smith Skynet is first seen in Universe A. So either Connor just made Universe B Skynet look like the original or Skynet traveled back with John Connor to Universe B in a reduced state so that it could be reborn. But then it somehow crossed time streams to Universe A in the future to send John Connor to the past. But how would Universe B Skynet get into Universe A to make sure it was created if it doesn”t exist before it sends ITSELF back? And how does Universe A Kyle Reese continue to exist in Universe B once Universe A is completely overwritten? Shouldn”t he fade from non-existence, leaving only child Kyle Reese in the current timeline?
BUT! Stopping Judgement Day in Universe B means Universe A Kyle Reese never existed. So he never enlisted in the army, never met John Connor, and since he doesn”t exist, NEVER gets sent to Universe B to begin with. Which means Universe B Sarah Connor would never have stopped Skynet, which means the trousers of time wouldn”t have split and it spits us back into the original Universe A and it all starts again and OH MY GOD THIS IS WHY WE CAN”T HAVE NICE THINGS MY BRAIN HURTS.
You could compare this to Spock co-existing with his alternate reality self in the new “Star Trek” films, but that franchise deals in the idea of multiverse instead of one timeline that been worn thin as old socks. Spock Prime”s universe is still there; it”s not blipped out of existence by overwriting the saved data.
Perhaps the moral of the Terminator universe is Skynet has somehow transcended time and space to become God and is now playing with its favorite toys in an never-ending Möbius strip because that”s the only logical explanation.
#3: Can time-travel not puncture back further than the 1970s?
This one is simple. Why is Skynet so dead set on killing Sarah and/or John Connor? Just time travel to Victorian London or the Wild West or Antebellum Georgia and murder their ancestors. Problem. Solved.
#4: How did Universe A Kyle Reese escape extermination as a child?
Terminator”s aren”t known for their Catch-and-Release initiatives (though it would make sense to tag a child and make them think they”d escaped then follow them back to a hive of humans). Yet somehow Kyle Reese escaped the extermination camp, since he has the barcode tattooed on his arm. Just how did an orphaned grade-schooler outwit an entire Skynet security system and make it to sweet, sweet freedom?
And now for something completely different! Baffling Question the movie DID answer.
#1: Why is Arnold”s Terminator aging?
The T-800 is grafted with real human flesh – not synthetic – and is therefore susceptible to the same cosmetic breakdown. This might lead to questions about cellular health and skin turnover rate when Terminators don”t seem to have blood to carry nutrients to their meat sacks, but fine.
#2: What possible reason could there be for human extermination camps instead of just Kill On Sight?
Being robots, human slave labor seems moot when you can just create more autonomous machines for menial labor. But this is answered in a round-about way by Pops” flesh suit and John Connor”s big reveal. If you”re going to graft human flesh onto your infiltrators, it”s gotta be grown organically. Also, if the nanite Terminator hybrids Skynet was working on were meant to be the next iteration, the robots would need guinea pigs.
#3: Who sent back the T-800 that raised Sarah?
It was totally Kyle Reese and/or Sarah Connor. Reese goes out of his way to quip how much he hates it when Pops says “Theoretically” but then finds himself using the catchphrase by movie”s end. We know Skynet is down but not out. Who else would have the wherewithal to program a T-800 and send it back in time with the necessary information other than the two people who understand ‘there is only one path”? I see what you did there, movie.