Terminator, Terminated

Terminator, Terminated

Terminator, Terminated

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
May 22 2009 3:52 PM

Terminator, Terminated

The Terminator movie franchise is notable for its creation of one of the earliest tough female action-hero characters: Sarah Connor, mother of John Connor. In the later movies, her son becomes the leader of the resistance to Skynet, the computer system that launched the war against humans, but in the first two she plays a crucial role. In a sense, she’s a Mary figure, the mother of the savior, but rather than cast a vulnerable softie, James Cameron cast Linda Hamilton, tough girl. Who can forget her biceps , or her famous chin-up scene ? So I went to see Terminator: Salvation hoping to find more of the same gender complexity. Instead, this movie, directed by McG is as conventional as can be. McG is hardly known for his auteur subtlety. But he did direct Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle and theoretically should have a feel for the female action in this film.

Not so here. Instead, John Connor (played by a very buff Christian Bale) flexes his way grimly through the film, pausing every now and then to kiss his very pregnant wife, Kate. She gets to ask questions and make a few comments about the evilness of the new hybrid terminator Skynet created. And to be sure there are a few good action scenes with Moon Bloodgood: We watch a daring pilot crash after a battle with the machines; she ejects and pulls off her helmet to reveal a sexy mane of hair. But this is quickly followed by her getting her ass kicked by some would-be rapists; she’s saved by a brawny male whom she then cuddles up to by the fire, saying "I’m cold." Yuck. I want Sarah Connor back.

Meghan O'Rourke is Slate’s culture critic and an advisory editor. She was previously an editor at the New Yorker. The Long Goodbye, a memoir about her mother’s death, is now out in paperback.