I was not at all invested in any of the characters (nor did I find the villain even mildly intimidating), despite the fact that they were introduced over thirty years ago in one of my favorite movies. The great J.K. Simmons gives the only enjoyable performance, and it’s wasted on a throwaway character.
I usually roll my eyes a bit at nostalgic, anti-CGI Luddites, but this is one of those films that completely validates their grievances. Its overzealous audiovisual digital effects rob most of the action of any grounding in reality (which, yes, is fitting/ironic given that the series is one big platitude about the dangers of excessive reliance on technology).
Who was this written for? The self-consciously Byzantine plot is too dizzying to satisfy a general audience and too riddled with holes to satisfy genre devotees. My only guess is that the audience becomes an afterthought when people are asked to bend over backwards to write a Terminator movie for a 68-year-old Arnold Schwarzenegger (who, even as he recites the bulk of the exposition, doesn’t sound like he understands it himself).