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UK Film Review: Terminator Salvation

Starring: Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Moon Bloodgood
Directed by: McG

The terminator, as represented first and best by Arnold Schwarzenegger, is an obvious signifier for brutish masculinity on film: black leather biker jacket, muscular build, modest dialogue. The irony being, of course, that he is a machine.

In Terminator Salvation (2009) this iconic manifestation stays in place, but the clothes and actor change. Not for the first time this has occurred (Schwarzenegger isn’t the only actor to play a terminator after all), but in this film his replacement looks more or less the same.

After the slim-framed T-1000 (Robert Patrick) and the female-framed T-X (Kristanna Loken), it is a back to basics approach that marks Terminator Salvation out as the freshest film in the franchise since number one.

The action itself is forgettable, with a string of mini-battles making up for one or two stand-out set-pieces (though Bale’s helicopter crash is exciting in its simplicity). There is nothing here to rival, say, the police station massacre in The Terminator (1984) or the storm drain chase in Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991).

However for a director primarily associated with paper-thin fluff, McG has a real understanding and appreciation of the Terminator mythology. He doesn’t concern himself too much with its overall timeline, which is fairly kaput by now anyway; instead he focuses on sly in-references to spark recognition with the viewer.

Enigmatic Marcus Wright’s (Sam Worthington) long military trench for example. It’s sufficiently close to the lightweight coat first acquired by Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in The Terminator, and the blue mac worn by lone protector Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn).This is a subtle sartorial hint for those paying attention; it aligns Marcus as both friend and foe for John Connor. That Schwarzenegger later changes into black and Worthington into white is also ironically significant. Look out too for Bale’s army pants and young Kyle’s (Anton Yelchin) trainers – both are allusions to T2 and T1 respectively.

And yet for all the good work McG does in resurrecting The Terminator franchise, he ultimately falls prey to the law of diminishing returns.

It is a war film, but too many similar battles in succession and action fatigue sets in. The plot comes together in the final act with a smart twist involving Marcus and a blast from the past, but this only underscores the flimsiness of Terminator Salvation’s story up to that point.

Flawed though a worthwhile attempt, McG has laid the groundwork for a proper psychological follow-up; if there is any justice Terminator 5 should be the series’ Platoon.

© 2009 – 2014, Lord Christopher Laverty.


  • John Kopack

    Yes hello my name is John Kopack and i was Wondering where i could purchase a similar trench coat that Marcus Wright Wears in Terminator Salvation. (as seen in Pictures 2 and Picture 3). Thank you

    • Chris Laverty

      Military Supply House do some quality tench coats. THIS Air Force one (far right) is similar to Marcus Wright’s. The model Sam Worthington wears is actually blue not grey as it seems in certain shots on screen.

  • Rick


    I was wondering what kind of jacket Christian Bale is wearing in the first part of terminator salvation? The same jacket he is wearing in the photo of him on this page. Also if possible were I could get one?

    Thanks, Rick

    • Chris Laverty

      It’s definitely by Alpha Industries. There seems to be some dispute as to the exact model, but THIS is the likeliest candidate. Of course the costume was heavily modified, as is often the case with sci-fi films. Apparently so much so that in this instance the jacket is almost unrecognisable.

  • sean

    I was wondering if you could tell me what jacket kyle is wearing at the beginning of salvation (the cool camo one) thank you!

  • Peapod

    I have been looking at pictures of Sam Worthington’s outfit for ages and have been trying to figure out what type of Gators he has/boots. They look pretty typical, the boots do, but the gators are more…I dunno. Maybe its just because they appear to be not tied up like most gators usually are…am I correct or is there some secret Gator/boot conspiracy that I am not aware of…I would love to know!!!


    • Chris Laverty

      To be honest I haven’t seen the film in a while so will have to give it another watch before I comment. Maybe someone else reading this can help..?

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