Film of the Week: Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

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James Cameron directs Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton and Edward Furlong in this sci-fi action juggernaut where the old T-800 model is reprogrammed and sent back in time to protect an adolescent John Conner from an even deadlier robotic threat than his mother faced in 1984.

They only ever made them like this once. And this was that one time. The scale of the mayhem, the clarity of the action storytelling is incredible. Footchases in malls turn into demolition derbies between motorbikes and 18 wheelers truck cabs. An intense and sweaty barefoot asylum breakout becomes a cybernetic horror show. We take complicit part in a terror attack on a corporate lab. Then a highway chase where a helicopter weaves under and over bridges in relentless pursuit of a SWAT vehicle… DONE FOR FUCKING REALS!! Bringing us to the blistering heat of the finale where our battered survivors are navigating a molten lead works with only a few bullets left, knowing the hundreds they have fired into the unstoppable new Terminator for the past couple of hours have barely slowed it. We also, en route, take in a one sided bar fight, nuclear destruction, future war and assassination attempts on a middle class family. This is how you do a blockbuster. Prime Arnie – just amazing. At home in the action, stretching his legs with the “human” stuff in a pleasingly believable way. Linda Hamilton is THE badass, raging warrior mother. No one has even tried to imitate her elemental, conflicted maelstrom since on screen.  And that triumphant score. Makes we want to watch it all over again. Flaws? The middle section heading to the border drags after all that big portion set-piece tasty. And that incongruous “I need a vacation” ad lib near the end should have found the editing floor. All in all though, thumbs up.

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