Terminator 2: Judgment Day essentially tells the same story that the original Terminator did, except this time the resistance manages to send back a reprogrammed terminator to protect a young John Connor from the sadistic T-1000 instead of sending one of their own resistance fighters back. Apparently this is the story that James Cameron originally wanted to tell, but the special effects and budget held him back in 1984, but not anymore. Just like The Terminator, this is James Cameron firing on all cylinders. Perhaps a little more refined as a director, more sure of himself behind the lens, and of his capabilities, overseeing every single aspect of the movie. James Cameron is a perfectionist on a mission in T2.
The T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is back in a reversal of roles this time, finding himself the guardian of a now born and rebellious teenager, John Connor (Edward Furlong). Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) has been locked away as a crazy terrorist due to her raving about terminators, time travel and constantly trying to blow up computer factories. The T-1000 (Robert Patrick) is a new liquid metal terminator that's sent back to kill the young John Connor, not Sarah Connor, and the T-1000 is a bone-chilling villain. So in a strange and somewhat cruel twist of fate, Sarah Connor is forced to team-up with the same model terminator that killed her lover, in order to protect her son from the frighteningly effective and ruthless T-1000.
Brad Fiedel is thankfully back as the composer and outdoes himself, managing to give Terminator 2 a more exhilarating and emphatic tempo than The Terminator had. Stan Winston is back as well and the work he does is simply marvelous, I'm constantly blown away by the special effects that that man can create. The T-1000 obviously requires a lot of cgi, but there's a surprising amount of practical effects that are used to great effect as well for the liquid metal terminator. The time and detail that must have gone into making those practical effects is INSANE, but it was all worth it, cgi was only used when it was absolutely necessary.
The action is intense, the chases are absolutely thrilling and unbelievably suspenseful, and the stunts are INCREDIBLE! Seriously, so many moments in this movie still make my jaw hit the floor in amazement. Even with so many big action set pieces there's still a comfortable pace to the movie, the action never overtakes the emotion of the movie, and there are lots of quiet and poignant moments that punctuate the big action sequences that are thoroughly exhilarating time and time again.
A lot of people equate James Cameron with big action movies and he does do big action movies remarkably well, arguably better than any other director, but he also recognizes the importance of good story-telling better than most as well, and T2 has a big heart underneath all the glorious action that ties the whole movie together. Linda Hamilton brings her 'A' game to T2 and she arguably steals a lot of the movie from Arnold Schwarzenegger, and that's no easy feat. Transformed by the events of The Terminator, she finds herself bordering on losing her humanity ie becoming a machine herself, remorseless and without pity, but she finds her heart again, partly through her son John, but mostly through the terminator. It's an ironic twist that it takes a machine to remind her of the importance of humanity.
My only real complaint, and it is a minor one, is that one or maybe two lines of dialogue felt wrong and have subsequently set a precedent for the more comical and 'human' terminators that were to follow in the franchise. If The Terminator is the pinnacle of low budget film making, then Terminator 2 is the pinnacle of high budget film making. Terminator 2 may very well be the greatest action movie ever made and to those of you who say the R rating is dead, I urge you to go re-watch Terminator 2, and yes, it is still a fucking R rated movie and that will never change.
Written by - The Sentry - 26/06/2015