Terminator Salvation seemed to be a good movie, with exciting visuals and action sequences, but the script showed definite signs of major alterations having been done. It has been widely reported that Christian Bale only agreed to take the role of John Connor once his part in this movie was greatly expanded. Personally, I think the film without John Connor would have been much better, and I’m going to give some concrete examples below, so beware spoilers.
The key lies in the most compelling characters in the film, Kyle Reese and Marcus Wright.
This film failed to show John Connor actually leading people. He made a few poignant comments over the radio, but we never saw him in charge of a mission. His comrades appeared to show deference, but those in command didn’t even respect him. Why wouldn’t they if he has all of the knowledge passed on by his mother? Why wasn’t John Connor in charge of the first mission in the desert? The only explanation I can think of is because the scene was written for Kyle Reese. Think of how much better a set-up it would have been if this young, resourceful kid had been the only survivor of that mission.
Why was John Connor surprised by the appearance of a humanoid terminator? The difference between a humanoid machine and one with a heart didn’t justify his reaction. And since he’s been listening to his mother’s tapes, he should have known what to expect. So why the surprise? Perhaps because the scene was written for Kyle Reese. Imagine if Kyle had come face to face with the true identity of the man who he’d fought beside, and who he obviously looked up to since he copied his phrase about pointing a gun.
Why was the believability stretched so thin during the end sequence in Skynet? John Connor clearly could not withstand the temperatures of molten metal that close to him. No amount of good shooting (of which there wasn’t much) would make him a match for the T-800. The final sequence seems to have been written for Marcus alone. A suicide mission into Skynet in order to purge his demons and save Kyle, who had been so devastated to learn he was a machine. And a classic Terminator on Terminator showdown, where the man accepts the machine within in order to save the day.
My theory is that the original script likely only included John Connor as a voice on the radio that no one met until the end. I doubt if I will ever see the unaltered script, so I will never know if I’m right. Just because I spent so much time afterwards pondering what a better story it might have been doesn’t mean I got extra value for my money.
3 out of 5 stars.