A T-800 was sent back to 1973 to terminate Sarah Connor at the age of nine (Willa Taylor), and a reprogrammed T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) was sent by John Connor to protect her. Her parents were murdered at her father’s cabin, but she was saved by the protector. Called “Pops”, he trained her for combat and told her all about Judgement Day and Skynet. They waited for Kyle Reese to show up in 1984.
In 1984, the original T-800 arrived to terminate her and together they destroyed it, Pops battling his earlier self and Sarah (Emelia Clarke) taking it out with a 50-caliber sniper rifle. Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) arrives to save a helpless waitress and finds himself pursued by a T-1000 (Lee Byung-hun). Sarah and Pops save him. He was informed that the timeline had changed, and he should prevent Judgement Day. He tries to terminate Pops and Pops has to knock him out.
The T-1000 tracks them to their safe house but falls afoul of an acid-trap. Sarah and Pops had built a time-displacement device and plan to travel to 1997 to stop Skynet before Judgement Day, which was now going to take place in 2017 according to Kyle, because the timestream had been buggered with so much. Pops has to stay behind to heal because his skin is too damaged to time-travel, so Sarah and Kyle travel forward together.
In 2017, they appear in the middle of a highway and are arrested. In custody, they learn of an app called Genisys, a new form of SkyNet. John Connor (Jason Clarke) having travelled back from the future, appears and helps them escape to hospital. Kyle knows he is John’s father.
Pops appears, having waited all this time, and shoots John, knowing that John is actually a T-3000. John is now a minion of SkyNet (Matt Smith). Sarah, Kyle, and Pops escape him and go to a safe house for weapons. Sarah resists Kyle’s passion because she knows he will die again. They flee from John Terminator in a school bus, which crashes on the Golden Gate Bridge, and they end up back in jail again.
They are helped by Detective O’Brien (J.K. Simmons), who remembers them from 1984, and they discover the young Kyle Reese (Bryant Prince). They tell him to run. After an amazing helicopter chase, they go to the Cyberdyne Building. John shows up and Pops traps him in a time displacement bubble. The others rig the building with explosives. Pops is thrown into a pool of mimetic polyalloy. Upgraded now, he rescues the others. They go to the home of the young Kyle Reese, give him a message to remember in the future, and they all drive off.
The film was a failure with critics and at the box-office. Though two sequels had already been green-lit, they were cancelled, prompting John Cameron to produce Terminator Dark Fate instead. Arnold Schwarzenegger worked out and ended up with the same body weight and muscle-mass as he had twelve years before. A bodybuilder named Brett Azar played the young Arnold, the result of a long search. He had the same body as the young Arnie and was a brilliant lip-syncher too. He adored Arnold, who showered him with cigars and other gifts. He appeared in Terminator Dark Fate as well. Arnold appeared in his naturally gray hair and well-worn face.
Emilia Clarke was a huge fan of the Terminator movies, having been forced to watch them at the age of seven by her nine-year-old brother. Emilia played Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones, and Lena Headey, who was Sarah Connor in the TV series, played Cersei Lannister in the same fantasy series. Alex, the SkyNet Terminator, was played by Matt Smith, the eleventh Doctor Who. J.K.Simmons was a delight for the cast and crew with his brilliant ad-libs.
Costume designer Susan Matheson moved mountains to get Nike to provide the perfect sneakers for Kyle Reese in 1984. Knowing that the fans would know the difference. In the end, Paramount convinced Nike to produce 25 pairs of the discontinued sneakers for the movie. Stan Winston was dead and could not provide animatronic Terminators, so they turned to Legacy Effects and Winston’s former staff. In this movie, it is Sarah who says, “Come with me if you want to live.” The film was largely inspired by Back to the Future, Part Two. Arnold meeting himself was inspired by Star Trek (2009) in which Leonard Nimoy meets Zachary Quinto.