Are we just counting the days until the announcement comes that Mad Max IV is on again, only now with Christian Bale replacing Mel Gibson as the burned-out wanderer of the endtimes? The casual and authoritative ease with which Bale (already the new face of Batman) slips into the warrior skin of Terminator Salvation‘s John Connor clues you in to the fact that he\‘s the new millennium’s action-hero everyman.
Not for a moment does Bale’s Connor seem anything less than the very soul of the human resistance against the machine apocalypse. When he stands up to his superiors to stop a bombing raid that could cripple Skynet but also kill many human prisoners—saying that to do so would make the resistance no better than the mindless machines they fight—the heart jumps a little with pride in the race. It’s a proficient but not particularly moving performance, even much of the plot revolves around Connor’s trying to save the teenage Kyle Reese (aka, his father, eventually) from Skynet. Bale keeps his eyes lidded and his powder dry, exploding only on command. This is a man you would follow into battle and do stupidly heroic things for, but probably could never know.