Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Part of 9 Days of 90s – Movies That Defined a Decade

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

In "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," the future once again comes hunting to kill John Connor. Though the world after the nuclear holocaust of 1997 is ruled by machines, a single man can still make a difference - and that man is Connor, who is a youngster as the movie opens but is destined to grow up into the leader of the human resistance movement against the cyborgs.

From the opening chase scene - in which young Connor, on a fast motorcycle, outruns T-1000, at the wheel of a semi - "Terminator 2" develops a close relationship between the young boy and the good Terminator. Before long young Connor even discovers that Schwarzenegger is programmed to follow his instructions, and so he orders the awesome machine to stop killing people. The result is a neat twist on the tradition of the Schwarzenegger special effects film; this time, instead of corpses littering the screen, the Arnold character shoots to maim or frighten.

It's fun for a kid, having his own pet Terminator, and that's one of the inspirations in the screenplay by director James Cameron and William Wisher. Schwarzenegger becomes a father figure for young Connor, who has never met his own father because, as nearly as I can recall, his own father came from the future. Another intriguing screenplay idea is to develop the Terminator's lack of emotions; like Mr. Spock in "Star Trek," he does not understand why humans cry.

There are the usual car chases, explosions and fight scenes, of course, all well done, but what people will remember is the way the movie envisions T-1000. This cyborg is made out of a newly invented liquid metal that makes him all but invincible. Shoot a hole in him, and you can see right through him, but the sides of the hole run together again, and he's repaired and ready for action.

All of that work would simply be an exercise if the character itself were not effective, but T1000, as played by Patrick, is a splendid villain, with compact good lucks and a bland expression. His most fearsome quality is his implacability; no matter what you do to him, he doesn't get disturbed and he doesn't get discouraged. He just pulls himself together and keeps on coming.

The key element in any action picture, I think, is a good villain.

"Terminator 2" has one, along with an intriguing hero and fierce heroine, and a young boy who is played by Furlong with guts and energy. The movie responds to criticisms of excessive movie violence by tempering the Terminator's blood lust, but nobody, I think, will complain that it doesn't have enough action.

— Roger Ebert,

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Wed December 13, 7:30 PM, Muenzinger Auditorium

France, United States of America; 1991; in English, Spanish; 137 min • official site

Director: James Cameron, Writer: James Cameron, William Wisher, Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, Robert Patrick, Joe Morton

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