all terminator movies are the same: junk. but mcg's terminator salvation has an important new element: humanity. in the opening scene, terminally ill scientist dr. serena kogan (helena bonham carter) poignantly addresses marcus wright (sam worthington), a convicted murderer on death row. her odd request that he donate his organs to science could be sinister, but carter's humble, needful manner has an undercurrent of suffering, far beyond the expected sci-fi villainy. she looks at wright sympathetically, even when he insults her-and that's the hook.

worthington's hard-assed response is complex. his shaved-head, blue-eyed demeanor belies his criminality. it's not a thug's face but the defensive masculine air of someone who's gone bad because he's desperate to show what he's made of to an unkind world. if this sequel is to live up to its title, here's the actor to do it.

too bad terminator 4 goes only halfway to salvation. it's still junk, but the good news is that worthington gives it emotional weight. despite the time-hopping nonsense about protecting john connor (christian bale) and his teenage father-to-be kyle reese (anton yelchin) from the t-600 killing machines (sent by the skynet organization to eradicate humanity), it's marcus wright's new figure of anger, compassion and sacrifice that matters.