Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Terminator 2: Judgment Day ★★★★★

"The unknown future rolls toward us. I face it for the first time with a sense of hope, because if a machine, a Terminator, can learn the value of human life, maybe we can too."

Now this is how you make a sequel! It doesn't bother coming up with an elaborate story to follow things up with but starts in much the same way as the previous film. In 2029, robots have taken over the world and humans are fighting them, led by John Connor. Skynet sends an advanced robot to kill the teenage John Connor (Edward Furlong) whilst the resistance sends their own soldier to protect him.

The twist is that this time around the T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) has been reprogrammed and is now the one protecting John Connor. Initially, he's still the same ruthless, emotionless killer but after spending time with John he begins to develop respect for human life and the beginnings of a sense of humour. He essentially becomes a father figure for John. It's a brilliant idea and it works thanks to Schwarzenegger's performance as the actor manages to shed the emotionless robot and become somehow endearing.

Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) is a very different character from the previous film too. In The Terminator she was just an ordinary woman trying to cope in extreme, unexpected circumstances but in the time between the films, she has turned herself into a fighter and brought John ready to lead the fight in the future. I thought Hamilton was good before but she's outstanding here, giving it everything and totally convincing as she does so.

It would have been easy for the film to follow too closely in the footsteps of its predecessor but Cameron added a new element as Sarah Connor heads to stop the man who created Skynet and inadvertently ended the world. There's a moment when Sarah is more Terminator than the Terminators as she ruthlessly tries to gun Dyson down but she re-discovers her humanity just in time. From there the plot becomes less about personal survival and more about saving the world.

The writing is superb here, as are the performances of stars Hamilton and Schwarzenegger. Edward Furlong could have been another in the long line of dodgy child actors but even he's excellent as John Connor. Of course, what the film really needed to work was the directorial skill of James Cameron. Few others, especially in 1991, could have put this film together. The action sequences are incredible, whether it's a chase involving a motorcycle and a truck or a fight between two robots using cutting edge CGI for the time. Cameron allows time for the characters to interact too, allowing us to see the pain of Sarah Connor and the development of the relationship between John and the T-800.

I also like that this provides a concrete end to the Terminator story, preventing a string of underwhelming sequels being made...