2: JUDGMENT DAY (1991)
Director: James Cameron
After the runaway success that was The Terminator, the public began begging for a sequel. Unfortunately, due to some legal problems, nobody could acquire the proper rights to do it. For almost a decade, the project floated in limbo while those involved with the first film went on with their lives. James Cameron directed such films as Aliens and The Abyss, Arnold Schwarzenegger became one of the biggest action stars in history, Linda Hamilton didn't do anything noteworthy (other than the Beauty & The Beast TV show), and Michael Biehn's character died at the end of The Terminator, so why would he be in the sequel? But finally, Mario Kassar's now-defunct Carolco Pictures acquired the final rights, and seven years after the original, Terminator 2 was a reality.
The nuclear war between humans and machines is still inevitable, but the machines refuse to give up. The original Terminator programmed to kill Sarah Connor in 1984 failed, so the machines sent a second Terminator back through time to attack her son. In both instances, the Human Resistance was able to send back a lone protector. In the present of 1994, a burst of energy signals the arrival of another Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger). He's not the same, but he just looks like it. He arrives at a biker bar, where he starts a brawl while acquiring clothes, a motorcycle, and a shotgun. Meanwhile, a Los Angeles police officer stops to investigate an electrical disturbance in a vacant alley. A smaller figure (Robert Patrick) jumps the officer from behind, takes his gun and uniform, and steals his police car.
Both are on the trail of young John Connor (Edward Furlong), a disillusioned preteen living with foster parents in suburban LA. John and a friend decide to head to the mall, stopping briefly at an ATM, where John hacks into it with an ATM and makes off with 200 dollars. His friend discovers a familiar picture in John's knapsack, asking who the woman in the picture is. The woman is John's mother Sarah (Linda Hamilton), who is locked in a maximum-security mental hospital, thanks to her stories about a cyborg assassin trying to kill her and the coming nuclear holocaust.
John and his friend head to the local mall, where the two visitors from the future intercept them. Running from the man he thinks is a cop, John runs right into the Terminator, who whips out his shotgun. John turns to run but finds himself looking down the barrel of the cop's weapon. In the ensuing shootout, John realizes that the Terminator is actually there to protect him and it's the cop who's hunting him.
Separated during the battle, John flees on his dirtbike. The cop follows at an unbelievable speed, first on foot and then in a gigantic tow truck. The chase continues into a flood canal, with the Terminator following behind on his motorcycle. He saves John from being crushed, and the truck meets a fiery crash at a narrow crossing. The Terminator and John quickly leave the scene, at which point the Terminator (who I'll call the T-800 from hereon) explains that an adult John sent him here from the future. Their adversary is an extremely advanced Terminator, named the T-1000. It's made from what the Terminator calls "mimetic polyalloy," allowing to imitate almost anything it touches. After deducing that the T-1000 may imitate Sarah to get to him, John demands that they free her from the loony bin.
But Sarah has her own plans. The police ask her about pictures of the T-800's mall appearance, linking it to the other T-800 from 1984. While apparently comatose, she manages to snatch a paperclip she uses to later escape from her cell. John and the T-800 arrive just in time to save Sarah from the T-1000, heading for a secret weapons cache in the desert near the Mexican border. However, a nightmare of the future convinces Sarah that she needs to act, and stop the war at the source.
T2 is one of my favorite movies, and for good reason. It's probably one of the best movies I've ever seen in my life. It far succeeds the original movie in almost every category. The action and stunt work is quite possibly the best seen in any movie of its kind. We see a variety of motorcycle stunts, a chase scene involving a giant tow truck, numerous shootouts, a motorcycle jumping from a building to a helicopter, a chase scene involving a helicopter and a SWAT van, and in the most ambitious stunt in the movie, a real office building being destroyed in an explosion (with no CGI or miniatures being used). For all of the action, none of it is gratuitous. It's all done to advance the story.
I thought the acting was fine as well. As the "good" version of his character from the prior Terminator movie, Schwarzenegger is given much more to work with this time around. The T-800 is given some depth and development. He's not the same heartless killing machine, but a more sentimental role. But despite the sentimentality, Arnold's still a tough guy, especially early in the movie. Linda Hamilton also shines as Sarah, who's now become a tough soldier, instead of the scared-of-everything waitress from 1984. The fact that nobody believes her ranting and raving about the end of the world give her character some much-needed growth. In fact, her machine-like determination almost makes her what she fears the most. As the T-1000, Robert Patrick does a very effective job playing the leaner, meaner Terminator model in contrast to Arnold's T-800. In some scenes, he comes off as being very snide and sarcastic; in others, he's the devil in a cop uniform. And for such a scrawny-looking villain, he's actually just as intimidating as Arnold in the first Terminator. However, I wasn't a fan of Edward Furlong. He's not horrible, but his extreme lack of acting experience is unavoidably noticeable.
I also enjoyed Brad Fiedel's score, which improved from the prior film, yet still remained somewhat similar. I guess if it ain't broke, don't fix it. It makes some scenes absolutely perfect, and fits well within the context of the film. In one scene, Sarah stalks Miles Dyson (Joe Morton), the designer of Skynet, outside his home with an almost Terminator-like intensity, which is complimented with a reworking of the classic Terminator theme. Great stuff.
There is no rating I can give Terminator 2 besides five stars. T2 is one of those movies that will blow you away and still have you come back for more. I said earlier that it's one of the best movies I've ever seen, and I meant it. If you haven't seen it, you should.
Final Rating: *****