At one point, the film carried the subtitle "The Future Begins." Coincidentally, the film Star Trek (2009) (which opened weeks before Terminator Salvation (2009)) used the same saying as a tagline. Actor Anton Yelchin appears in both films.
The trick with keeping a shotgun attached around the arm that Marcus shows Kyle Reese, is used by the older Kyle Reese played by Michael Biehn at the beginning of the original The Terminator (1984), after he saws off the butt to shorten the shotgun he stole from the police squad car.
Director McG asked the cast and crew to read the novel "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy and "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" by Philip K. Dick - the basis for Blade Runner (1982) - because he wanted them to absorb the bleakness of the world in the novels.
Director McG actually went to visit James Cameron who was working in New Zealand on Avatar (2009) to gain insights and respecting the mythology set in the first two films. It was then that Cameron recommended his art director Martin Laing to work as a production designer and Sam Worthington to play Marcus.
During filming in the summer of 2008, Christian Bale yelled and used profanity at cinematographer Shane Hurlbut, who was adjusting the light in the background while Bale was doing an intense scene and got distracted by the cinematographer. Bale's tirade was then leaked on the Internet. After it was leaked, Bale publicly apologized for his remarks and insisted that he and Hurlbut are on good terms.
Earlier drafts of the script before rewrites focused a lot more on just Marcus Wright and Kyle Reese, with John Connor making an appearance in the last few scenes. Christian Bale was first offered the role of Marcus but took more interest in the character of John Connor so rewrites took place to give him more of a substantial role throughout the film.
Was intended to be the first of a new Terminator "Future War Trilogy", all done by McG, but the films poor performance and reception led to McG being fired and replaced before the next two films ever came to fruition. Instead, a new trilogy is planned to begin with Terminator Genisys (2015).
The third Terminator film to have the line, "Come with me if you want to live." In The Terminator (1984), Kyle Reese says it to Sarah Connor at the Tech-Noir club. In Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), the Terminator says it to Sarah Connor when they first meet at the mental institution. In 'Salvation' Kyle Reese says it to Marcus Wright when they first meet. In Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003), a paraphrased version of this line ("Do you wanna live? Come on!") is spoken by John Connor to Kate Brewster when he and the T-850 rescue her in the graveyard. "Come with me if you want to live" is also spoken by Cameron in the pilot episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008), when rescuing the teenage John Connor from the 'Cromartie' T-888.
The first recording that John Connor listens to of his mother is an edited version of the recording that she makes at the end of the first Terminator. Moments before the picture that he has and eventually gives to Kyle Reese is taken.
Just before Connor sets down his helicopter to infiltrate the research facility, the target camera of an incoming rocket indicates the facilities location to be N36° 17'39'' E117° 15'25''. According to these coordinates the facility is located in China, approximately 350km south of Bejing. (See also Goofs)
Christian Bale later stated that before the film, he expressed the same concerns to McG that the Terminator fan-base was expressing about him taking over the franchise. Bale told him that "Nothing in your (McG) filmography suggests that you have what it takes to do this movie properly." McG ultimately convinced Bale to give him a chance so he could "evolve" as a director, but as of 2014 admits that the film "didn't work", insinuating that it was ultimately McG who blew it, and stating that he would never work with McG ever again, though he wishes him well.
Assuming there is small margin of error between the "correct" and "alternate" time lines of the previous films, this installment takes place about 11 and a half years (2018) before the events leading up to the first (2029).
The river bank used for the napalm strike during Marcus' escape was part of a one-mile man-made river because environmental officials present during the production will not allow them to use the existing river.
John Connor and Marcus both use a Sony UX which is the small hand-held PDA device they receive information through and use as an interface to some of the systems, this is a micro PC with a 4.5in screen and weighing just over 1lb.
In early 2008, Paul Haggis was brought on to polish the script. After he was done, three weeks before filming, Shawn Ryan was asked to rewrite the script, and he took "a pretty big whack" at it. However, he later had to return to television, and the filmmakers "subsequently brought in one or two other writers to continue the work," most likely Anthony E. Zuiker and Jonathan Nolan. So extensive were the rewrites that Alan Dean Foster decided to rewrite the entire novelization after submitting it to his publisher, because the compiled shooting script was very different from the one he was given beforehand.
The song that plays when Marcus Wright starts the truck in LA is 'Rooster' by Alice in Chains. The song was written by guitarist Jerry Cantrell about his father's experiences in Vietnam (Rooster was Jerry Cantrell, Sr.'s nickname), and the opening line, "Ain't found a way to kill me yet" parallels the movie from John Connor's perspective, with the machines as yet unsuccessful in their numerous attempts to kill him.
In the opening scene, Marcus is executed by lethal injection using a very accurate prop based on the execution machine developed by engineer Fred A. Leuchter Jr.. As of the release date, this system is only used by four states, mostly due to problems adapting the drug delivery rate for different individuals.
This is the first film in which John Connor and his father Kyle Reese have appeared together (if one disregards the Special Edition of Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), where Kyle Reese makes an appearance in a dream sequence that was deleted from the Theatrical Version).
Each Terminator film has been produced under a different company. The Terminator (1984) was produced by Hemdale and went through Orion, Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) went through Carolco and Tri-Star (which was owned by Columbia), Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) was produced by C-2 Pictures and distributed through both Warner Bros. (Domestic release) and Columbia Pictures (international release), and Terminator Salvation (2009) was produced by The Halcyon Company and distributed through both Warner Bros. (Domestic release) and Columbia Pictures (international release).
The film's look is based on Technicolor's OZ (Olson-Zacharias) process, which adds three times more silver to the negative film stock, making it milkier without affecting the grain structure. Although the process was tested in pre-production, it wasn't actually used. Instead, its look was mimicked in the digital intermediate process.
The silver-looking machine where the nuclear fuel cells are stored at the Skynet factory is actually a piece of equipment from a semiconductor manufacturing plant, an SVG 90-S coater/developer for silicon wafers.
This was originally intended to be the second half of the two Terminator movies developed back to back by Mario Kassar and Andrew G. Vajna. It was originally titled Project Angel (seen in some computer screens in Skynet during sync sequence with Marcus) and was to be written by David C. Wilson for release in 2003 with the events to start immediately after the first-half, which was Rise of The Machines. However, actor commitments including Arnold Schwarzenegger's office term as Governor of California prompted the script to be rewritten, including moving the time line by credited writers, John Brancato and Michael Ferris, to be supervised and directed by Jonathan Mostow. The project was delayed because in 2006, Kassar and Vajna decided to end their partnership and the movie rights was sold to Derek Anderson and Victor Kubicek.
In the intro, the camera focuses on each letter of the film's title before the words "Terminator" and "Salvation" intersect with each other before being placed in their appropriate places, is similar to the intro from The Terminator (1984).
The shotgun Kyle initially has and is taken away from him by Marcus is a Mossberg 500 typically used for door breaching. Standoff muzzle devices set breaching shotguns apart from the rest and the giveaway feature.
In the novelization, Marcus thinks about using the pages of Beyond Good and Evil as toilet paper; Sylvester Stallone wanted to use the swear box sheets as toilet paper in Demolition Man (1993), and both Stallone and Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger were action movie rivals.
When Marcus is taken prisoner by the resistance, he's held in an abandoned missile silo, the interior is very high up. The resistance brig was used usually for sleeping off too much booze, soldiers who fight amongst themselves or to settle gambling debts from adjoining cells.
Marcus was suspicious of trust and kindness. He could also swim fast, even underwater. Marcus had been very good at climbing trees as a child. He liked knives because they were always there for him, ready and willing to do what he wanted, which was often. Watching Blair Williams climb down from the tower reminded Marcus of women climbing to escape police custody.
The Harvester that attacked the mini-mart had assorted sensors, both the normal and infrared visual spectrums and ultraviolet. It also has great range to fire at something with more than one weapon. Harvesters place prisoners into Transporters; valuable specimens like Marcus are placed in the forward section. Harvesters have CPU's too. Most people taken prisoner by the machines resigned themselves to death and the ones that didn't were taken away by the Terminators never to be seen again. Some followed their examples only to end the anticipation. The people in the camps wondered if it was a quick death because the machines were efficient, and not prone to sadism, except when extracting information. But they didn't resort to torture because it's deemed an inefficient allocation of resources rather than immoral. Some prisoners were known to go mad loudly or quietly, but the machines didn't care either way as long as they complied. T-600s tattoo prisoners with barcodes on their hands. Reese wondered if they were different for adults and children and did they have an expiration date or were altered in some way. The machines illuminate prisoners like an examination.
The bikes that chase after Reese, Marcus and Star are called Moto-Terminators; they go much faster than a Harvester, their responses are faster than any human driver and Motos also have a very tough outer shell. Moto-Terminators can travel up to 200mph; they home in on sounds associated with human presence. Music means nothing to a Moto because it carried no digital instructions but it could lead them to a human and it was much faster than a human. But although it had a tough exterior, it's innards were much more vulnerable to reprogramming. Motos are not designed to be ridden but can be with difficulty if they're reprogrammed. Motos can do wheelies no human ever could. Motos are mindless and will even go off a bridge to follow their programming.
In the scene when Reese and Star go off the bridge, it's a surprise when the Harvester appears to pluck them out the air; the novelization just tells us. The missiles are A-10 Warthogs, piloted by resistance members Williams and Mihradi (who is uncredited in the film).
Skynet's machines were immune to rain, but they preferred not to operate during heavy downpours; it complicated the electronic perception of their surroundings and could even interfere with their bipedal mobility.
Marcus, Reese and Star are all traveling to San Francisco. Some of Skynet Central made use of the ruins of greater San Francisco; there are self-aware, automated bulldozers that remake the city in their own image and according to Skynet's plan; Marcus wryly thought it might be a distant relative, and would the buildings become self-aware too. The machines were rebuilding San Francisco as an industrial fortress for Skynet, but they had blown up the Golden Gate Bridge. Because it was gone, there were no humans, and Skynet won't waste resources to patrol it. Skynet has placed movement sensitive gun turrets at the end of the bridge that wait before opening fire. John Connor still felt San Francisco had beauty, just not as much of it.
The people at the gas station had stored away packaged and canned food, vacuum-sealed loaves of bread, cans of beer, soda, water and fresh vegetables; the advantages of living outside a major city away from Skynet's control. It was more food than Reese had seen in his life; Reese hadn't tasted ice cream in years. Apples are rare in the future; the resistance tried to keep the base supplied with food, clothing and medical supplies, but fresh fruit was a luxury. There were still orchards but half wild and overgrown that still provided fruit in season carefully picked by civilians.
The cable that snags the T-600 is unbreakable. Terminators will shoot off their own limbs (like the T-600 does) if need be to allow them to complete their mission; even being trapped will not interfere with their directive to terminate someone.
The machine John Connor and the tech team examine is a Hydrobot, which is designed to operate in the water; if it can't carry out its program, it thrashes about like in the film. All Terminators are programmed to recognize John Connor, another reason it was struggling to get free. Although Hydrorobots were eyeless, they had a host of other sensors and razor metal jaws to clamp down and chew through an enemy, even choppers. Because they're only 4ft in length, they attack in numbers to bring down an enemy, and they're tough shell repels most bullets. Hydrobots are useless on land, so the best they could do is fling themselves out the water at someone.
The resistance broadcasted with hidden towers scattered across the continent; they sent out encrypted signals that decrypted at the very end of the transmission. If they were traced by the machines they were rigged to self-destruct through an encryption timer. To prevent tracing, communications would not be completed until the very last moment. The resistance engineering staff assembled their own broadcast unit.
The resistance were losing more every month. But as the voice of the resistance, John Connor would rally them, whatever the end result may be, even though the words never came easily to him. People across the Western United States, parts of Northern Mexico and Utah tuned into Connor's broadcasts as a highly anticipated ritual. Kate Brewster's support helped Connor whenever he was stuck for words during the broadcasts. They were checked so they couldn't be traced. Connor wondered if Reese listened to his broadcasts. John knew the resistance would persevere until all of Skynet's forces were destroyed.
Self-aware robotic killing machines are not too far from reality. The United Nations called for a ban on killer robots, for the fear that several countries are developing them and could threaten the human race. Even Stephen Hawking felt the development of full artificial intelligence could one day spell the end of the human race.
Although the machines believed themselves superior to humans, they had learned not to underestimate them; they maintained a constant vigil for any escape attempts, and the mere presence of a T-600 would deter any; they're programmed to respond to any deviation to the norm, like an empty lift shaft.
A Terminator's sensors can magnify and analyze substances, like C4, but if it encountered some without a detonator, it would consider it harmless. If a Terminator analyses something new, it adds the data to its individual database.
A T-600 is more powerful than quick; it can't observe, evaluate and react all at once. It does have one vulnerable spot, an exposed space at the base of its neck. If attacked there, it loses motor control.
Terminators are designed for pursuit, and will scan and follow their prey to the ends of the Earth because they believe termination to be a foregone conclusion. A Terminator will resume its mission if interrupted, as if nothing had happened. If a Terminator is damaged, the machines will send help if they think it's necessary, and destroy a fellow Terminator if it's malfunction is impeding they're mission.
The Terminator that looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger is in no hurry to kill John. John uses a 25mm grenade launcher on it, but it would only stun it or slow it down, not destroy it, and it would still gain on its prey. John always assumed he'd be killed by an Arnie Terminator.
If John Connor were killed, the machines would scan his DNA too. A Terminator's directive to kill John overrode everything else. It would return to its ancillary programming once he was dead and then back to primary.
In the novelization, unrelenting combat had aged some of the troops beyond their years, but still they persisted. Some of the soldiers call John Connor a class-A terrorist, Tunney and David are his backups, and Barbarosa was the team's lead technician. Another resistance member is called Chris. Most of the resistance were good at killing, but only a few were good at the technical stuff. Connor is nearly always solemn, he had learned to stay alive by moving fast, and anyone not made of metal and circuitry was a companion to him, although he did consider Marcus a friend after he saved him from a Terminator. John didn't feel much contentment and neither did anyone else in the resistance. He had seen recordings of old weather broadcasts. John wondered in the book if Skynet naming Marcus Wright meant it had developed a macabre sense of humor. John played back several of Sarah Connor's tapes, memorizing them so from her advice he could learn how to fight back against the machines. He considered them a part of him, just as she was, but he missed her for her confidence and assurance that one day humanity would win and Skynet would be defeated, even when things seemed hopeless. John felt Marcus should be destroyed even if he had saved Williams. John acted less indomitable with Kate Brewster. John lapsed more and more into depression as the war raged on; sometimes Kate could bring him out of it, sometimes not, but he could shake off melancholy and become all business again when the need arose. The war had given John permanent frown lines on his forehead. John never backed away from anything. At the base, John's orders were followed more than anyone else's. John was used to not being listened to; he could never understand why. John only understood the rules on the outside because he made them. John's hands were scarred. Not much could unsettle John in the future but the people herded to their deaths did. John had learned that the best way to beat the machines was to turn their efficiency against them. John considered the possibility the machines may go crazy and start shooting at one another.
In the book, Skynet environments have typically red lighting. Skynet facilities, once up and running, could carry out their programmed functions while the rest of the machines fought humanity and built new facilities, but they couldn't independently track intruders. Skynet will exhaust and starve its prisoners with an inhuman regard for them. Skynet's way of communication is all in code and schematics, cold and disciplined, and the resistance had learned to interpret it.
None of the films after Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) are popular. After James Cameron left the series, the copyright passed through several hands, adding to the series drop in quality. These films just vary what Cameron did without the same strength or imagination. Terminator Salvation (2009) was expected to reboot the series, but it was a box-office disappointment so it was a further six years before the next film in the series, Terminator Genisys (2015).
Some of the Terminators that capture people are called Transporters; Transporters are only semi-sentient so are not that bright. The brain of a Transporter is called a neural nexus. Hacking into a Transporter is easier than a Moto Terminator because a Moto has freedom of action and can make decisions but a Transporter can do neither, only what it's told.
During filming of a scene. Christian Bale lost it, when the director of photography walked onto the scene and accidentally interrupted the scene and Bale ranted and swore his mouth off and used 39 F-words.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Near the end of the movie, there's a confrontation with a newly-minted Terminator with Arnold Schwarzenegger's face. However, Schwarzenegger didn't shoot anything for this movie; the effects team scanned his face from a previous film and applied the result to the stunt double. The result is a character with a much younger face than Arnold possesses today.
This is the first "Terminator" movie in which a character does not speak the word "Terminated" after killing a Terminator (i.e. "You're terminated!"). However, the word "Terminated" flashes in red on the T-800's internal processor after it thinks it has killed Marcus Wright, a Terminator with a human brain and heart.
A similar desert gas station appears in all four Terminator films. In The Terminator (1984) Sarah stops at one before driving to the Mojave Desert. In Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) Sarah, John and the T-800 camp in one for the night after she escapes from the hospital. In Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) it is where The T-800 stops for supplies and gas. In Terminator Salvation (2009) it is the hideout for the refugees shortly before they are attacked by the Harvester Terminator.
During the final encounter, the T-800 picks up a concrete block and repeatedly bashes it into Marcus' chest. This is reminiscent of Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) where the T-1000 uses a steel girder in a similar manner, crushing the T-800's head and chest area.
All four 'Terminator' films have had their climactic battle scenes take place in industrial settings. The Terminator (1984) saw Kyle and Sarah face a skinless T-800 in an automated factory; Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) had the T-800 and the T-1000 face off in a steel mill; Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) placed John, Kate and the T-850 at Cyber Research Systems, where John and Kate escaped the TX in a particle accelerator; and Terminator Salvation (2009) sees John and Marcus face off with the very first T-800 in a Skynet factory.
In one scene, moto-terminators attack a semi-tow truck driven by Kyle Reese, Marcus Wright and Star as they try to fight the machines off. This is a reference-in-reverse to Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), where the T-1000 drives a semi-tower, chasing the young John Connor on a dirt bike. Also, the moment where the moto-terminator jumps off the bridge and lands in front of the tow truck is a reference to the T-800s jump into the canal in T2: the T2 stunt was originally planned to happen the same way but was changed due to safety and budgetary issues.
John Connor dumps molten steel over a Terminator and then freezes it at the climax. This references Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), when the T-1000 was frozen by liquid nitrogen and then thawed out by molten steel at a steel works.
Originally the ending was to have the real John Connor die and someone else, likely Marcus, take up the mantle and assume Connor's identity since very few people actually knew what the real John Connor looked like in 2018. The idea being that anybody could be a hero (in this case, John Connor) and that not only is Judgment Day inevitable, but John Connor and more importantly, the Resistsnce is as well. Sadly, this idea was scrapped when the script was leaked.
John Conner asks Blair Williams "How's that leg ", she says "I'll Live". In Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) at the mental hospital, the T-800 shoots the security guard in the leg and says "He'll live".