A young John Connor must survive with the help of a Terminator if he is to lead the revolution in the future.
“Terminator 2: Judgment Day” is widely considered one of the best action movies from the 90s (or ever for some people), I remember by dad showing it to me when I wasn’t even close to old enough for the material, but he thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread, and after viewing it myself at my adolescent age, I couldn’t have agreed more. It’s been years and years since I’ve gone back to it, so recently I decided to see if T2 stands the test of time.
Directed by the prestigious James Cameron, “Terminator 2” is the sequel to the 1984 film “The Terminator”, and takes place years after it. This was Cameron in his prime, coming off the heels of two very successful action thrillers (“Aliens”, “The Abyss”) he came back to direct the sequel to The Terminator seven years later, and with new knowledge and skills, he made possibly one of the best action sequels ever, if not one of the greatest action films ever. Full of high-octane chase scenes, bombastic shoot-outs, explosions that make Michael Bay proud, and most of all a whole lot of heart.
Terminator 2 is a sequel that truly works because of its characters, and their ability to have the time to learn and grow, all the while keeping the audience entertained. It definitely has a longer runtime than most action thrillers, but it’s constantly engaging, the characters show humor, compassion, and fear without it ever feeling corny or out of place. The writing is airtight, building slowly, while giving us progressively larger action set pieces, in between the growth of the characters. The direction is done with great craft, close attention to detail, soaked in apocalyptic atmosphere, it’s an action movie with deeply personal and relatable characters facing a wholly realistic situation; what happens when A.I. becomes self-aware?
This film is a great reminder of when before James Cameron sold his soul to the CGI devils, brilliantly blending the special effects with practical that still look better than some the schlock that’s being made today. Nowadays Cameron is focused and making his films with massive amounts of CGI, but take a look back through his filmography and you’ll find great films that use the CGI to enhance the story, not the 3D sales.
Arnold Schwarzenegger (“Conan the Barbarian”) is a fun actor, regardless of how terrible the films are, he’s always a blast to watch, and his signature role as The Terminator is no different. He brings such life into a lifeless character, one that only Arnold could do. From the strange, often hilarious facial gestures, to the slapstick high fives, it’s just good entertainment. Watching him grow with John Connor (Edward Furlong, “American History X”), and being taught humanistic behaviors is almost as fun as blowing up fifty cop cars. The blend of emotion and action in this film is spot on.
Overall Terminator 2: Judgment Day stands the test of time, and has only grown better after the years, much like a fine wine. From the chaotic action sequences, to the emotional story, and strong characters, this is truly one of the best action movies to be made, I have yet to see another one with this much heart so wonderfully blended in with the chaos. This is far and away James Cameron’s finest film, with his strongest characters, highest stakes and most emotional story all while showing what a force he used to be.