Today’s release of “Terminator Salvation” marks the arrival of the fourth actor to play John Connor, son of Sarah Connor and the future savior of post-Judgment Day humanity. Christian Bale is the new guy, and trailers so far have suggested that he brings some of that “Batman” darkness to the role. Whatever you want to think about that unfortunate meltdown of his, this is a good pairing of character and actor.
Sarah (Linda Hamilton) is Skynet’s target in the first movie, and her protector Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) is the man who turns out to be John’s father. John Connor doesn’t actually appear in the flesh until the second movie, “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.” There he is played by a teenage Edward Furlong, who manages to deliver a nice balance between whiny punk and future savior of humanity.
Furlong is replaced by Nick Stahl in the black sheep of the franchise, “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.” Personally, I think “T3” gets an undeserved bad rap. It’s a perfectly functional sci-fi/action flick, and for the most part the cast does a solid job with what they have to work with. Stahl is the highlight for me; Claire Danes’ character felt a bit too tacked on and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s returning good-guy Terminator... he just didn’t have the same heart that made his “Judgment Day” character so memorable. Odd to say for a robot, but it’s true.
More recently, the now-canceled “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” TV series introduced another John, played by Thomas Dekker. Set between the events of “T2” and “T3,” Dekker certainly fits the bill age-wise between the younger Furlong and the older Stahl. I didn’t care for him initially with his emo-kid fashion sense and rebellious teen attitude, but his character ended up being further shaped by events on the show. By the time the series ended, we were starting to see the naturally charismatic leader John Connor has always been built up as.
Now that you’ve gotten your taste of Bale’s Connor in “Terminator Salvation,” which do you prefer? Vote now in the thoroughly unscientific poll below. Or robots might come to your house and kill you.