Kevin Chan’s review published on Letterboxd:
Sarah Connor: [voiceover] Watching John with the machine, it was suddenly so clear. The terminator, would never stop. It would never leave him, and it would never hurt him, never shout at him, or get drunk and hit him, or say it was too busy to spend time with him. It would always be there. And it would die, to protect him. Of all the would-be fathers who came and went over the years, this thing, this machine, was the only one who measured up. In an insane world, it was the sanest choice.
The last time my red eyes have seen this film was probably at the end of freshman year of college, which was awhile before flying red-eyes for work. Seeing it again, this action/sci-fi film holds up in visual, technical, practical, and stunt laden work full of great pyrotechnics, editing, and cinematography and legitimate care for realistic destruction and tension for the sake of entertainment. In simpler terms, this means that Black Widow and its lack of a cinematic mark is an insult to all of this and the recent lowest of the low tier films when it comes to action — not to mention cape flicks. James Cameron’s T2 was a marvel way before the Feige’s episodic universe hit the screens. Undoubtedly, Ah-nold’s big hit still remains a marvel… unlike his recent comments about freedom. But let’s not get too carried away.
A little over a decade after the events of Cameron’s The Terminator, comes adolescent John Connor (Edward Furlong) living in a world without a father and essentially without his mother Sarah (Linda Hamilton) either. John, the future human resistance leader to counter the A.I. Skynet’s self-awareness and its mission to exterminate humanity. Consequentially, a terminator T-1000 (Robert Patrick) is sent back in time to kill John and prevent his exploits. Simultaneously, the future John sends a T-800 (Arnie) to protect his 10-year-old self.
It’s been written in my other reviews before, but the theme of parenthood rings through Cameron’s action/sci-fi gem. Yes, there are such themes of humanity’s faults, global panic, and nuclear destruction. But the more meaningful and grounded concept is the importance of parenthood plus a child’s misconception of why a mother or father acted the way they did. Sadly, John grew up without a father except for all those ex-army or green beret men Sarah attached herself to in order to shape him into the fearless leader for all mankind. John didn’t know this and thought his mom was just crazy.
The outrageous events of the T-800 saving John from a shapeshifting Android finally made him realize his mom was telling the truth. Not only that but the one strong patriarchal figure turned out to be the T-800 who would as Sarah put it…
… never leave him, and it would never hurt him, never shout at him, or get drunk and hit him, or say it was too busy to spend time with him. It would always be there. And it would die, to protect him.
This is obvious, but the help of a mother and father do affect the future of a child and John wouldn’t have matured and become a fearless kid and leader had it not been for Sarah and the Terminator. Funnily enough, John had a wild but a truly caring childhood during his adventure with his mom and cyborg father figure. Albeit fleeting. He then learns the gift of a father’s sacrifice once the adventure culminates. John learns about humanity’s imperfections, but he also comes to understand the sacrifices individuals make. So it’s not only the T-800 who has learned more about humanity as per his cyborg system’s nature, but young John does so too. And he learns it fast.
It goes without saying that of course T2 should have been the end of Cameron’s story. Or better yet, his and Universal Studios’ mini-sequel T2-3D: Battle Across Time is the true finale. Always loved this second movie as a kid, but in terms of Cameron’s and Arnie’s best… True Lies — an underrated delight — might have to take the cake. However, both remain as some of the best of cinematic action and stunt work.
Lastly, to those who like to read my reviews — I’m sorry for not logging as much. Work and life have been picking back up.