Terminator Salvation roars to life on screen with enough gutsy firepower to literally shake you in your seat. She's a mean, loud metallic beast that hasn't eaten in years, and the only commands she understands come in the form of growls, snarls, bullets and explosions. You can't really ask for more from an action picture (well you can, but we'll get to that); with Terminator Salvation, director McG proves that he's more than a punchline for online jokes -- his action scenes are fierce and eye-popping; he gives us the post-apocalyptic Skynet world we've always wanted to see and then asks if we want seconds or thirds. This is the Terminator film for a generation that expects over-the-top; an audience who likes it rough, but still PG-13, so we don't get carded at the door.
And that's all well and good if you also don't need to care -- because while Terminator Salvation is a gnarly little actioner, this movie about robots lacks, well, life. There's a fantastic scene in Terminator 2: Judgment Day when Sarah Connor runs right into her son John and the T-800 exiting an elevator in the mental institution, and her eyes pop as she drops to the floor; frightened to her core. She doesn't yet know that this T-800 is a good guy -- instead, all she sees is failure, death and desperation. And we feel that; we're so sold in that moment and our hearts do a freak-dance as the T-1000 closes in behind her. That scene is one of the single greatest of this franchise, and that panic, that momentum, that edge-of-your-seat, full-body experience is what's absent from Terminator Salvation.
She doesn't bleed when we kinda need her to.