The T-800 is now the most dated thing about the Terminator films

The notion of a humanoid robot assassin looks dated before it’s even possible.

So the trailer for Terminator: ‘Genisys’ has arrived.

It looks potentially entertaining and Emilia Clarke seems like a perfect replacement for Linda Hamilton. However, it doesn’t really address the fundamental question regarding this semi-reboot: what exactly it is supposed to be adding to the franchise.

One minor issue that I will be curious to see if the filmmakers attempt to address is that since the original films were made it has become apparent that if one wanted to design a machine which conducts assassinations it probably wouldn’t look like the T-800:

More Accurate

The only film I’ve seen so far that addresses how drones are changing warfare is the Bourne Legacy. Though like much of the rest of that film it does so badly. To try and prove that the CIA would still need genetically enhanced super-assassins when they have predator drones, there is a faintly ludicrous scene where Jeremy Renner’s Bourne stand-in character manages to shoot a drone down with a rifle.

Frankly, filmakers are going to have to do better than this. ‘Killer robots’ are becoming more prevalent and are moving from the sky to the ground. Because Terminator is a retro franchise – which has helpfully established in the past installments that only organic matter can be sent back in time –  it can probably get away with this. Films hoping to depict realistic battlefields of the near future will need to account for drones and the like. The Top Gun sequel will apparently see Tom Cruise’s character trying to prove the relevance of human pilots. Expect a lot more films to deal with similar themes.

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7 thoughts on “The T-800 is now the most dated thing about the Terminator films

  1. This is absolute rot.

    For a start, in the first film it is established that Skynet does have drone aircraft.

    However, it is also established that the humans are hiding out in underground bunkers. And no airborne drone laden with bombs will help if (a) you don’t know where to bomb and (b) your bombs can’t penetrate.

    The T-800 is identified as a ‘series 800 infiltrator’. Its job is infiltration, ie, blending with the enemy in order to gather intelligence.

    An army cannot win by bombs alone; an army needs spies. The T-800 is not a bomber, it’s a spy. And that’s why it has to be able to pass undetected among the enemy.

    The T-800’s analogue isn’t a Reaper drone; it’s Carrie Matheson.

    (I haven’t seen the Bourne films, but it’s plausible that the US might still need ‘genetically enhanced super-assassins’ (if such existed) for either missions where they want deniability, or for mounting false-flag operations. A drone strike may well kill the target, but it also is hard to mistake who was responsible.)

    • That’s a well made point but I don’t think it really explains why you would use a T-800 rather than a drone to kill Sarah Connor. Surely Skynet just wants her dead?

      Deniability wouldn’t matter. Even assuming one of its drones couldn’t self destruct, humans in the 1980s would have had no hope of working out what it was or where it had come from.

      • That’s a well made point but I don’t think it really explains why you would use a T-800 rather than a drone to kill Sarah Connor

        That’s why they had to contrive the silly ‘only organic matter goes through the time machine’ plot device, isn’t it? (Well, that and to make sure the characters would have to fight with ’80s technology, because having them zap ray guns at each other wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun).

        Though actually, given that Skynet in the future knows only Sarah Connor’s name, and what city she’s in, but not where she lives, where she works, or what she looks like, how exactly would sending a flying drone back help? What is it supposed to do, exactly?

        Even without the contrived organic limitation, it would have to send back a spy to find her, before the drone could kill her.

        (Or send back a nuclear bomb to just wipe out the whole city. But the ‘only organic matter’ thing gets around that too.)

      • Yes I suppose given the limited information they have about her and the fact that it’s the 80s so there wouldn’t be much electronic data for the drone to read finding her would probably require someone/something on the ground.

        Skynet probably wouldn’t want to nuke 1980s LA as that’s where Cyberdyne is based, so that might be rather suicidal.

      • (Also I thought your point wasn’t just ‘why would a T-800 be sent back?) but ‘why would Skynet even bother to build T-800s in the future, instead of just building flying bomber drones?’)

      • My point that is that films that wish to maintain plausibility will need to account for drone technology. So for example, if in a few years we get to the point where fighters and bombers are either remotely piloted or fly themselves, then a filmaker who wants to put Star Wars style manned star fighters in their film will need to justify why technology has apparently gone backwards between now and when their film is set.

    • My point that is that films that wish to maintain plausibility will need to account for drone technology. So for example, if in a few years we get to the point where fighters and bombers are either remotely piloted or fly themselves, then a filmaker who wants to put Star Wars style manned star fighters in their film will need to justify why technology has apparently gone backwards between now and when their film is set.

      Okay, but that has little or nothing to do with The Terminator.

      Yes I suppose given the limited information they have about her and the fact that it’s the 80s so there wouldn’t be much electronic data for the drone to read finding her would probably require someone/something on the ground.

      SIGINT will never be able to get you everything you need. At some point you’re always going to need a person asking questions (or an Austrian body-builder grunting, I suppose).

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