Terminator Salvation

Movie review by
James Rocchi, Common Sense Media
Terminator Salvation Movie Poster Image
First PG-13 Terminator is loud, explosive, and dark.
  • PG-13
  • 2009
  • 114 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 25 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 74 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Despite the constant violence, the movie's ultimate messages about the possibility of redemption and of sacrifice in the name of a greater good come through. The essential ethical nature of human behavior is discussed: "We aren't machines, and if we act like them, what's the point of winning?"

Positive Role Models & Representations

Marcus -- a one-time criminal -- repeatedly puts himself at risk for others, particularly Kyle, and ultimately makes a very noble choice. John is relentless in his goal of eliminating the machines and sometimes lets that get in the way of compassion; but he, too, is a hero in the end. Some of the other resistance leaders are inflexible and short-sighted.


Extensive violence, much of it involving battles (hand-to-hand and with firearms) between super-strong robots and humans. There are also explosions (including a character getting blown up by a mine), crashes, shootings, stabbings, and assault with blunt objects; mutilated, wounded, and dead bodies are seen -- though there's not that much blood overall. Robots are burned with molten metal; the red-hot robots covered in jagged metal then attack humans. Gruesome medical/experimental imagery.


Some kissing. A man and a woman snuggle up to share warmth.


Mostly includes words like "hell" and "damn," but there are also a couple of uses of "s--t" and one of "f--k," plus "son of a bitch," "ass," and "God."


It's good to know that Jeep and 7-Eleven make it through the apocalypse. ...

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that although this installment of the Terminator series is the first to earn a PG-13 rating instead of an R, Terminator Salvation is still extremely violent. There's not much actual blood, but there's plenty of broken flesh, bruises, and batterings. The film's tone is also quite intense, with constant attacks, life-or-death struggles, and scenes in which giant robots attack and abduct humans. While much of the violence is directed against robots, some of those robots are remarkably human-looking, which makes the gore and grim action a bit tougher to take than you might think. Characters also touch on heavy topics like morality, ethics, and redemption. There's a little bit of kissing, but hardly anything to worry about in the way of strong language, drinking, or smoking.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 16 and 17-year-old Written bysssygirl April 13, 2020


The movie was pretty good actually, except for the part where a woman takes her shirt and bra off exposing her breasts. It was not mentioned in Common Senses r... Continue reading
Adult Written byReliableSource August 29, 2019

PG-13: for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and for some language

If your child is into Marvel or DC movies, this one should not be an issue. While this movie is not as good as the first two terminators, there is nothing overl... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byGamingGamerMovi... June 27, 2021

Sci-fi war movie is different than other Terminator films

Terminator: Salvation is a prequel to 1984’s “The Terminator”. It is the first movie in the series to receive a PG-13 rating. As of right now, this film is avai... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old February 8, 2021

Pretty Good Film

When i watched this film i loved it. it was pretty dark though. it was violent, and had language. mature tweens can handle it.

What's the story?

Taking place after the events of Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, TERMINATOR SALVATION begins with a 2003-set prologue in which condemned prisoner Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) volunteers his body to science; it then jumps ahead to a devastated 2018, where the now-grown John Connor (Christian Bale) is leading the fight against the machine intelligence that's devastated the planet. But after a raid on a machine base, a single figure staggers from the wreckage -- it's Wright, confused about the battered new world he's woken up to. Marcus and John rally around Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin), the freedom fighter who, years later, will be sent back in time to protect John's mother from a robot assassin -- and who, in the past, becomes John's father.

Is it any good?

This movie is full of pretzel-logic time-travel philosophy and an over-the-top production jammed with effects and action. It feels less like an addition to the Terminator franchise than an ambling, throat-clearing side-track. Promised the ultimate war between humanity and machines, we instead get more of the same plot threads the franchise has already served up three times: the dangers of a fractured time-space continuum and the possibility that a robot designed to kill humans might come to know and feel for them.

Director McG has a firm hand on the big, blow-'em-up action set pieces, but the film founders in the spaces in between. Bale's Connor is a loud bore, even while Worthington infuses his thin role with a stiff shot of star power and rugged charisma. Terminator Salvation promises the last word in the franchise, but it's just a tale full of sound and fury and special effects, signifying nothing.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what's makes Terminator Salvation different from the other Terminator films?

  • What's the impact of seeing violent images like the ones here?

  • Can human nature be replicated by a machine -- and, if so, would that machine be human?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sci-fi action

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