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THE TERMINATOR IN THE MEDIA
Terminator Salvation is a 2009 American science fiction action film directed by McG and starring Christian Bale and Sam Worthington. It is the fourth installment in the Terminator series. In a departure from the previous installments, which were set between 1984 and 2004 and used time travel as a key plot element, Salvation is set in 2018 and focuses on the war between Skynet and humanity, with the human Resistance fighting against Skynet's killing machines. Bale portrays John Connor, a Resistance fighter and the franchise's central character, while Worthington portrays cyborg Marcus Wright. Terminator Salvation also features Anton Yelchin as a young Kyle Reese, a character first introduced in The Terminator, and depicts the origin of the T-800 Model 101 Terminator.
In 2003, Doctor Serena Kogan (Helena Bonham Carter) of Cyberdyne Systems convinces death row inmate Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) to sign his body over for medical research following his execution. One year later the Skynet system is activated, perceives humans as a threat and eradicates much of humanity in the "Judgment Day" event (depicted in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines).
In 2018, John Connor (Christian Bale) leads a Resistance attack on a Skynet base. John discovers human prisoners and schematics for a new type of Terminator, incorporating living tissue. He is the only survivor of the assault after the base is destroyed in a nuclear explosion. Much later, though, an un-aged Marcus emerges from the base's wreckage and starts walking towards Los Angeles.
John returns to Resistance headquarters located aboard a nuclear submarine and tells General Ashdown (Michael Ironside) of his findings. Meanwhile, the Resistance has discovered a radio signal believed to send an order to shut down Skynet machines. They plan to launch an offensive against the Skynet base in San Francisco in four days. This is in response to an intercepted "kill list" created by Skynet with a plan to kill the Resistance's command staff. John learns he is second on the list, following someone named Kyle Reese. The Resistance leaders are unaware of Kyle's importance, but John knows Kyle will eventually go back in time and become his father (The Terminator). John meets with his wife Kate (Bryce Dallas Howard) and second in command Barnes (Common). He transmits a radio broadcast to Resistance members and surviving civilians around the world.
Arriving in the ruins of Los Angeles, Marcus is saved from a T-600 Terminator by Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) and the mute child Star (Jadagrace Berry). Kyle updates Marcus about the war between humans and Skynet. Hearing John's radio broadcast, the three leave in search of the Resistance. They survive an attack at a gas station, but Kyle, Star, and several other humans are taken prisoner.
Two Resistance A-10 airplanes are shot down when they try to intercept the machine transport and its escorts. Marcus locates downed pilot Blair Williams (Moon Bloodgood) and they make their way to John's base, where Marcus is wounded by a magnetic land mine. Attempting to save his life, the Resistance fighters discover that he is a cyborg, with a mechanical endoskeleton and a partially artificial cerebral cortex. Marcus believes himself to be human, but John thinks that Marcus has been sent to kill him, and orders his destruction. However, Blair helps Marcus escape. During the pursuit, Marcus saves John's life from Skynet hydrobots, and the two make a bargain: Marcus will enter Skynet's headquarters and attempt to help John rescue Kyle and the other prisoners.
John pleads with Ashdown to delay the attack, but Ashdown refuses and relieves John of his command. However, the Resistance forces disobey Ashdown's orders and await John's signal. Marcus enters the base, interfaces with the computer, and disables the perimeter defenses so that John can infiltrate the cell block and release the human prisoners. Marcus discovers that he was created by Skynet in order to lure John to the base; when the Resistance launches its attack, John will be killed, achieving the goal that Skynet had failed to accomplish so many times. The radio signal that the Resistance's plan depends on is a ruse, and Skynet uses the signal to track down and destroy the command submarine with the Resistance leaders aboard.
Marcus tears out the hardware linking him to Skynet and assists John in battling a new T-800 model 101 Terminator. John is mortally wounded during the fight, but succeeds in destroying the Skynet base by rigging several Terminator fuel cells to explode, detonating them as he, Marcus, Kyle, and Star are airlifted out. Kate attempts to save John's life, but his heart is too badly damaged. Marcus offers his own heart for transplant, sacrificing himself to save John. Recovering, John radios to the other Resistance fighters that though this battle has been won, the war is far from over.
- Christian Bale as John Connor. Director McG deemed Bale "the most credible action star in the world" during development. McG wanted Bale for Marcus, but the actor — even though he "can't really remember why" — wanted to play John, and that led to the character's role getting expanded in rewrites of the script. Bale was the first person to be cast and signed on for the role in November 2007. McG talked extensively with Bale in the UK about the role while the latter was filming The Dark Knight, and they both agreed to proceed. Although a fan of the Terminator series, he was at first uninterested until McG convinced him the story would be character-based and not rely on special effects. They kept working on the story every day, along with Worthington. McG said Bale broke his hand punching a Terminator prop during filming. Bale also spent six to eight hours each day with McG in the editing room to advise the finished product.
- Sam Worthington as Marcus Wright. Worthington compared Marcus to Dorothy Gale and Alice due to being "this person waking up in another world [who then] tries to find himself". Terminator creator James Cameron personally recommended Worthington (whom he directed in Avatar) to McG. Russell Crowe also recommended him to McG. The director decided Worthington looked tougher than the "great many of today's [waify] young male actors".Worthington recalled Cameron told him "the Terminator to make is the one with the war". Worthington tore his intercostal muscles during the first weeks of filming, but nevertheless insisted on performing his own stunts. McG once expressed interest in casting Christian Bale, Daniel Day-Lewis or Josh Brolin in the part. Brolin did talk to Bale and read a draft of the screenplay, which he found "interesting and dark; ultimately, though, I didn't think it felt right".
- Anton Yelchin as Kyle Reese, a teenage refugee and admirer of John Connor and the Resistance. As portrayed by Michael Biehn in The Terminator, he was sent back in time to 1984 to protect Sarah Connor to ensure the survival of the human race, and fathered John with her. Yelchin said he wanted to portray Kyle as Biehn did and not make him appear weaker because it was a younger version of the character. The difference in his portrayal lies in showing Kyle as intense, but not concentrated until he joins the resistance proper. Yelchin tried to convey Kyle's intensity by focusing on how fast Biehn appeared when running in the original film.
- Bryce Dallas Howard as Kate Connor, John's wife. Charlotte Gainsbourg was originally set to play the part, but left due to scheduling conflicts with another film. As portrayed by Claire Danes in the third film, Kate was a veterinarian; but in this film, she is now a physician. Howard suggested, as part of the character's backstory, that Kate studied medical books and interviewed many surviving doctors after the events of Judgment Day. The film's subject matter reminded her of developing countries, devastated by war and lacking basic supplies such as clean water, which "reflects things that are going on currently in this privileged world that we are living in where there hasn't been an apocalypse and robots haven't taken over the world. I think that's something definitely for us to reinvestigate and that we continue to make choices for our own future to take that into consideration". Howard also focused on Kate "being accustomed to fear and loss" because the character was a military brat.
- Moon Bloodgood as Blair Williams, a "no-nonsense and battle-hardened" pilot of the Resistance who suffers from survivor's guilt and serves as a romantic interest for Marcus. McG characterizes her as continuing the feminine strength that has been prominent throughout the franchise.
- Common as Barnes, John's right-hand man. Common stated the character was not much development, being "only just a bad-ass character, you know, really the big heavy of the movie", before McG's intervention. Common agreed with this, as "I didn’t want to just be the big, bulky guy there" and worked on the emotional side, "thinking about how it would be in a world that’s post-apocalyptic, a world where, you know, things have been destroyed and we’re really fighting for survival."
- Helena Bonham Carter as Dr. Serena Kogan, an ex-Cyberdyne scientist who convinces Marcus to donate his body for her research. Her face is later used by the Skynet computer to communicate with Marcus. Tilda Swinton was originally considered for the part, but Bonham Carter replaced her before filming. She accepted the part because her domestic partner, Tim Burton, is a Terminator fan. Her role was a "small but pivotal" one and would only require ten days of shooting. On July 20, 2008, Bonham Carter delayed filming by a day,and was given an indefinite leave due to the death of four of her family members in a minibus accident in South Africa.
- Roland Kickinger as the T-800 Model 101, the first Terminator covered in living tissue. Arnold Schwarzenegger's facial likeness was utilized via CGI, with a mold of his face made in 1984 scanned to create the digital makeup.Fellow Austrian bodybuilder and actor Kickinger, who previously portrayed Schwarzenegger in the 2005 biographical film See Arnold Run, was his physical double on set. When asked about his role, Kickinger said it's "Arnold's character in the first Terminator. That's basically my role, but 20 years before, so it establishes how the Terminator came about." Polish strongman athlete Mariusz Pudzianowski was also considered for doubling Schwarzenegger. If Schwarzenegger had decided not to lend his appearace to the film, then John would have shot the T-800s face off before the audience got a good look at him.
- Jadagrace Berry as Star, a nine-year-old girl in Kyle's care. Born after Judgment Day, Star is mute due to the trauma of the post-apocalyptic world. However, this has given her the unnatural ability to sense when a Skynet machine is approaching.
- Michael Ironside as General Ashdown, the leader of the Resistance.
- Terry Crews as Captain Jericho, Barnes' brother
- Linda Hamilton as the uncredited voice of Sarah Connor, John's mother. Sarah's voice is heard from tapes she recorded before her death prior to the film's events