Humans cooperate best when fighting against a common enemy.
That is often the case in history. And that is the case in post Judgement Day earth, 2018 AD. The earth has been scorched by man’s former proxies; cybernetic organisms and artificial intelligences originally made as servants of man. In this reality of ironic bleakness, survival is a tightrope. And the key to human survival, is to band together. Being a lupus could benefit. But life expectancy is direly circumcised when it becomes mano a mecanismo.
Terminator Salvation had two main narrations with and several subtle pretexts.
Essentially, it was the story of two distinct persons which paths intersected. It was the story of John Connor and the story of Marcus Wright. The script developed these two characters well. I think the viewer got to see defining events in their lives which shaped their current motivation and personality. And then the two paths meet and creates a single path. From then it was mostly action, displaying efforts and means to and end.
Some subtle layers were shown in the portrayal of post Judgement Day life. Humanity had become a dichotomy; survive by cooperation, or survive by being a lupus. There’s also the story of hope and redemption.
At the start of the film, Marcus sincerely believed he should die for his crimes and he was given a second chance, years later in the post apocalyptic world. John Connor’s story of resistance was also an interesting point in the film. It is in this movie that me as an old Terminator fan got to see how John works the resistance. And to my delight, it was a humane resistance fueled by hope. A hope which John is giving, and which he took inspiration from the things he cherished about; his mother’s tape, his wife and unborn son, and his love for his father.
When Marcus’ human story of redemption meets with John’s story of resistance roughly halfway through the film, each of the main characters’ backstory has been established. From then on, it was all action. As action without any underlying motivation is dry, the film was “wet” enough to arrive at an emotional resolution.
I’d say, the script is quite good for an action movie.