Reviews

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

3

No Arnie, no Jim Cameron… no point? Maybe, maybe not. Hiatused mid-season by the Writers’ Strike, The Sarah Connor Chronicles leaves a hung jury in its wake. The good news is that these nine episodes (of a planned 13) do enough to dampen fanboy fears of AVP-style sacrilege. If anything, there’s too much reverence, the show raking over Terminator mythology without pushing hard enough in fresh directions. So in the pilot we get winks (a cyborg called Cameron!) and nods (“Come with me if you want to live!”) in service to a T2 redux: fugitives Sarah (Lena Headey) and John Connor (Thomas Dekker) protected by one future-bot, persecuted by another…

Even doused in déjà vu, it’s a punchy, grabby, chase-fuelled opener. But the series generally doesn’t over-rely on fighting and FX (both solid) to distract audiences from its tortuous time-meddling. Slyly leapfrogging the events of T3 – episode one jumps the characters from the late ’90s to now – the plot spins its wheels slowly but coherently. How long the show can stare down the paradoxes, before it – and the viewer’s brain – implodes remains to be seen. But, in the meantime, there’s meat to munch on: moral quandaries, man/technology musings, emotional entanglements…

The pre-apocalyptic, tech-noir tone’s just about on the dosh, while Headey’s warrior-mom is suitably sexy-tough and sadness-tinged, her performance hampered at the edges by spats of appalling dire-logue (“Even when your father was screaming about the machines… he had such kind eyes”) and the sort of droney voice-over that seems de rigueur in 80 per cent of current US telly-drama. What’s more, Headey doesn’t get it all her own way, having to wrestle for alpha-female status with Summer Glau’s goodie Terminator. The unstable soul of Joss Whedon’s Firefly/Serenity, Glau is equally indispensable here, a deadly, deadpan enigma (what’s she really up to?) sharing a strange frisson with Dekker’s John that nudges the show – at last – towards some much-needed unexplored territory. Worth the second shot Fox have decided to give it, then. The non-finale cliffhanger speaks for the whole: no great rug-puller, but... you’ll be back. Extras unavailable at press time.

Film Details

  • 15
  • UK Theatrical Release Date: July 28th 2008

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