“I need your clothes, your boots and your motorcycle.”
Dir. James Cameron
Runtime: 137 minutes
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, Robert Patrick
Who said sequels are usually rubbish??? Well I can assure you that in the case of “Terminator 2: Judgement Day” this is not true! Taking place a century after the events of the first film, T2 brings back some of the faces from “The Terminator” film, notably Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and let’s them shine with their performances.
The events that occurred in the first Terminator film, which took place in 1984 were successful, but only up to a point. Unknown to Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) in the first film, parts of the Terminator were recovered by Cyberdyne Systems to be worked on for future technological advancements. That means that the future is still in risk and always has been despite what they went through – in fact they have unwillingly contributed to the story.
Future resistance leader John Connor (Edward Furlong) was born in 1985, a year after the first film. That same year, his mum Sarah, is locked up in an asylum and deemed crazy for her views about the machine uprising of the future. John is put into foster care, where he initially visited his mum.
In the future (2029), Machines have once again decided to win their future war against mankind, by attacking the past.
T2 takes place in 1995, the future resistance leader John Connor (Furlong) is 10 years old. Mother Sarah is still locked up in an asylum. An upgraded Terminator, a T-1000 series (Robert Patrick), arrives to kill him from 2029. This upgraded killing machine is made of none-stable metal, which means he can transform and mimic metal objects, as long they don’t have moving parts or any organic components (for example, it can melt into the floor, or turn it’s arms into swords – but it can’t turn into a gun). To protect himself in the past, future John Connor (2029) has sent a T-800 (Arnie) back in time to 1995 as well. Previously a killing machine, it has been reprogrammed to do as John instructs. John and the T-800 break Sarah Connor out of the institute but barely escape from the T-1000. A plan is hatched to defeat Cyberdyne in 1995, so they plan to destroy all technology that potentially could lead to the machine uprising, and the decide to target Miles Dyson too as he is destined to become the creator of Skynet – CyberDynes defense system that starts the war. In order to execute their plan they have to outrun and outsmart the T-1000, as well as the Police.
NOTE: Go to the bottom of this post to see a timeline which might help you get your ahead around events.
… or… here’s a summary in 180 characters or less…
Killing machine sent back in time to terminate a future resistance leader, but the resistance leader has also sent back a killing machine to protect him from the other one.
While the first Terminator film in the franchise was relatively low budget but had a great story, its 1991 sequel is a mega big-budget blockbuster and still has a great story. Everything is ramped up: Special Effects, Practical Effects, Stunts, Action, Plot, Performances, and also the musical soundtrack which accompanies the film. If films had settings between 1 and 10 – this film introduced level 11. Director James Cameron wasn’t just organizing behind the cameras, he also had a hand in the writing stakes too. What he does though is fantastic, he creates a lovely pace with all the elements of an action film coming together in harmony. Everything looks and feels crisp. He makes sure that anything that is complex is explained, and he makes sure that all the small things are accounted for too – take for example reloading of guns which all the actors needed to be trained in, or making sure fights are not just choreographed well, but also spaced out to allow the film to flow nicely.
Some of the action and effects in this film were top of the range and revolutionary in the 90’s, some even look good in today’s CGI heavy markets. This film marked a turning point for effects; you only have to watch the way a T-1000 Terminator interacts with its surroundings to see some of the leaps forward this film brought. The first film was a defining moment in science fiction films, and the sequel took that and ran with it – extending an already exceptional concept and lifting it onto a pedestal.
In the acting stakes Arnie was already a big action star, this film though transformed him into an action mega-star – a titan of action films if you like. He wasn’t just the emotionless machine anymore like in the first film, his CPU has been programmed to learn and adapt. There are some fun moments when John Connor is teaching the T-800 how to be more human. It shows that he has learned a lot in the 7 years since the first film which didn’t permit him much dialogue. Linda Hamilton cements herself in as a solid action star here too. In the first film she was more of a damsel in distress, in this she is a bad ass force to be reckoned with. Edward Furlong was introduced as John Connor and as a child at the time that was the pinnacle of his acting career (which is kind of a pity as there is only a downhill slope off a mountainous summit like this film), he does well and encapsulates a true 1990’s snotty kid that things everything is a laugh. In the bad guy stakes, Robert Patrick, is excellent. He looks like an ‘any man’ but manages to ooze character as the emotionless killing machine. Patrick has been in a lot since, but in my opinion, like Furlong, this was the pinnacle of his career and I’ll forever remember his face haunting my dreams.
I can’t tell you how much I loved this film as a child – it’s a cinematographic tour-de-force and hasn’t deteriorated too much with age. If the first Terminator set the bar for excellence, then this film created a new notch onto which a new bar could be placed. I’ve re watched this film numerous times in my adult life and the film still brings me a lot of joy to watch. It enhanced what the first film did and then allowed it to explode out – furthering the franchise timelines and canon, allowing cross-platform expansion into computer games, comics, and novels – and generally being a platform for so much more to be done. Furthermore, this film set up for the Terminator universe to keep creating and recreating itself. When it exhausts one timeline it can create a new one much like post 2010 Terminator films have done. One of the things John Connor announces in this film is a pertinent to understanding that.
“The future’s not set. There’s no fate but what we make for ourselves.”John Connor
As one of my favourite films, I am happy to award this film a whopping 10 out of 10. It’s mean, it’s dark, it’s exciting, it’s thrilling – it’s got great special effects, the soundtrack is amazing, the acting is on point. The film is extremely quotable, it’s got a lot of iconic scenes… in short, this isn’t just an amazing action film, it’s a film which changed and advanced what it was possible to do in films, it’s a piece of history in my mind.
NOTE: In case this might help, here’s a timeline of events from ” The Terminator” and “Terminator 2: Judgment Day“. I’ve kept this locked down for those two films only, I’m sure that if you are a fan of the other films you’ll know that there are a lot more events that could be added.
- 01:52:00 A T-800 arrives from 2029 to kill Sarah Connor
- 02:01:00 Kyle Reese arrives from 2029 to protect Sarah Connor
- Kyle is success but dies. Parts of the T-800 are left behind in the Cyberdyne facility
- John Connor is born
- Cyberdyne begins researching robot technology from the parts of the T-800 it found
- Sarah Connor is put into a mental institute after trying to blow up a computer factory and telling people about Judgement Day
- John Connor is placed in foster care under the supervision of Todd and Janelle Voight
- 03:14:00 A T-800 arrives to protect John Connor
- 04:58:00 A T-1000 arrives to kill John Connor
- The T-800 is successful, the T-1000 is destroyed, Sarah is free from the mental institute, Miles Dyson (creator of Skynet) dies. Sarah and John hide out in Paragguay where Sarah begins training John in warfare in readiness for Judgement Day.
(29th) Aug, 1997
- 02:14:00 Judgement Day
- John Connor is 44 years old
- Sarah Connor is 66 years old
- Skynet sends a T-800 back to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor
- John Connor asks a volunteer, Kyle Reese (aged 23 years old), to go back to 1984 to protect Sarah Connor
- Skynet sends a T-1000 back to 1995 to kill John Connor
- John Connor sends a reprogrammed T-800 back to 1995 to protect his younger self