It is 2027 and the humans, led by John Connor (Jason Clarke), have beaten Skynet in a long and bitter war. However, Skynet have sent a T800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) back in time to kill Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) before she can give birth to the resistance leader, John Connor. In response John Connor sends Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back in time to 1982 to save Sarah Connor. If it sounds familiar it is because it's what happened in The Terminator, however, things have changed and Kyle is sent to an alternate 1982 - a 1982 where Sarah Connor is already prepared for such an attack and with her own T800 (also played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) Sarah tries to stop Judgement Day from ever happening.
Before you read any further I must warn you that there will be spoilers ahead but it's nothing you haven't seen in the many trailers for the film. When the first trailer for Terminator Genisys was released there was quite a lot of controversy surrounding the extensive level of plot shown in the trailer (fans were particularly annoyed when John Connor was shown to be a Terminator). Even director Alan Taylor stated his displeasure at the marketing morons who'd undone his work in making that revelation a complete shock as was his intention.
The previous Terminator (Salvation) was very poorly received whilst T3 has a better but rather mixed following (I personally thought it was fine) amongst fans. So because of the negative reaction to the previous two films director Alan Taylor has a difficult job bringing the quality back to the Terminator franchise, however Taylor doesn't fully succeed in doing this. The film starts well with its highly amusing and not so subtle references to the first Terminator film (think Gus Van Sant's shot for shot remake of Psycho) but once the film gets into the main hub of the central story the interest wanes and the generic action sequences lack tension.
In T2 the absurdness of the action sequences was turned up to eleven and it's very much the same here in the recent Terminator film with its somersaulting buses, impossible helicopter stunts and numerous car crashes. The fact that our heroes can clamber out of huge bus crash without as much as a scratch (the film has a 12A rating) means that the film is really lacking in the tension and threat that made T1 and T2 so exciting.
The film moves at very a brisk pace as we're flung from one physics defying set piece to another, but it's too brisk. It feels as though the film could be split into two different stories, but instead they mash two different timezones and two different stories together leaving both, particularly the second part of the story (where the 'genisys' of the title comes into play), feeling rather underdeveloped. It's because the main trio seem to breeze through any obstacle that gets in their way without as much as scratch that it negates any sense of dramatic tension. However, the film's quick pace means that it's never dull just lacking in depth.
There are some decent performances, Jason Clarke is excellent and Arnold Schwarzenegger is back in the role that fits him better than Indiana Jones fits Harrison Ford. It is Schwarzenegger who brings much of humour to the film as his T800 (called Pops) has been trained to fit into modern society but with very mixed results. On the other hand, Emilia Clarke is fine but never really embodies Sarah Connor like Linda Hamilton did and Jai Courtney doesn't have the charisma to pull off a leading role.
The film doesn't really deserve the critical bashing it got, but there's still room for improvement and the film's Marketing Department really did the film a disservice more so than anyone else.