But on the bright side, the humans do have a terrific leader in John Connor, the only man who can help them win the war. But those damn dirty machines know that, so they decide to send a T-1000 back in time to kill Connor when he was just an inoffensive 10 year old. The humans of the future learn about these shenanigans and counter-attack by sending a killing machine of their own, namely a T-800 unit that looks an awful lot like Arnold Schwarzenegger!
If you’ve seen the original picture, you’ll remember how awesome Arnold was as the then evil Terminator, even though the picture was a low-budget affair. In the sequel, they bring back the Austrian Oak, but as a hero this time. His entrance is just phenomenal. He appears in a burst of electricity, bare-assed. He needs clothes, so he enters a biker bar nearby. With his characteristic robotic tone and badass attitude, Scwarzenegger asks a biker to give him his clothes and his chopper. Ha! Of course, the dude’s like “no way, man”, so the Terminator starts beating the crap outta everyone in the bar. What a great scene! It’s pure action at its best: macho, fast and brutal. If the whole film was just like that, it would definitively be one of my favorites.
Unfortunately, though the picture still packs tons of testosterone-fueled sequences, it’s slightly brought down by the introduction of Edward Furlong as teen Connor and Linda Hamilton as his mom. Maybe it’s not fair to beat on a kid but… Dammit, Furlong is a horrible actor! He’s whiney, annoying, talking in lame pseudo-hip lingo. Hamilton is more convincing, and her Are You A Paranoid Psycho When Machines From The Future Really Are Out To Kill You? character is actually interesting. The problem is that James Cameron‘s script is rather heavy-handed, with ominous narration (“The future, always so clear to me, had become like a black highway at night. We were in uncharted territory now… making up history as we went along”) that’s not bad per se, but when I watch a Schwarzenegger flick, I don’t necessarily need philosophy or whatnot, and especially not some kid telling the fucking Terminator NOT TO KILL PEOPLE ANYMORE!!!
You read me right: halfway into the film, Arnold actually stops his killing spree! Come on! We’re talking about the Terminator- how can he not kill people? This doesn’t ruin the film, but it does restrain it from the absolute balls-to-the-wall greatness of a “Commando”, a “Predator”, a “Conan the Barbarian” or the original “The Terminator”. But enough with that. Cameron still did an astonishing job. His film is visually stunning, mostly thrilling and filled with amazing FX. There are plenty of cool chases and shoot-outs, and the T-1000 ranks among the greatest villains ever. He’s brilliantly played by Robert Patrick, who sure knows how to stare in a threatening way. The extended final showdown between the two cyborgs is way, way exciting. I’d say that 90% of the film is as perfect as it gets, but for some reason, Cameron sometimes slows the pace for some preachy bullshit.
I’m still giving the film 4 stars, because with more than half a dozen extremely cool action sequences, it’s not a couple of so-so scenes that will make it any less of an unforgettable movie, and one of the best crafted Hollywood action flicks I’ve seen. I just wish it was as relentlessly dramatic and thrilling as the original, which took itself seriously too but never went as far as stopping dead for half an hour of exposition where the villain is all but forgotten about.