Terminator 2: Judgment Day Review

Terminator 2: Judgment Day
In the future battle between man and machine, John Connor will be key to the preservation of human life. Hence, one cyborg is sent back from the future to kill him and one to protect him. The twist - this time the protector is in the same shape as the killer sent back to destroy the boy in the first film - Arnold Schwarzenegger.

by Kim Newman |
Published on
Release Date:

16 Aug 1991

Running Time:

136 minutes



Original Title:

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Tipping the scales at a reputed $100 million dollars, this is allegedly the most expensive movie ever made. The original 1984 film cost one-twelfth as much, but obviously the nice people at Carolco did their sums right because this sequel hauled in more than the gross of the first picture, in its first two days of release in America.

With James Cameron needing to re-establish himself commercially after the semi-flop of The Abyss, and Big Arnie revisiting the role that still stands as his best, there was obviously a lot of pressure on this one to deliver the goods, and it certainly does. No-one can walk out of this and say they didn't see the whole hundred mil up there on the screen in exploding vehicles, wrecked buildings, monster effects and sheer sweaty action.

It opens with an intriguing re-run of the first movie's premise as a gigantic cyborg (Schwarzenegger) and a slimline ordinary joe (Patrick) are zapped back from the future, this time to seek out ten-year-old John Connor (Edward Furlong), the son of the heroine (Hamilton) of The Terminator, and struggle over his life, with the balance of a future that may or not be ruined by a cataclysmic war between man and machines up for grabs in the titanic struggle. However, the twist is that Patrick, a fresh-faced type who impersonates a cop, is the deadly mechanical baddie, and Arnie, in biker leathers and mean shades, has been reprogrammed to protect the brat and his mom and, in between the extensive carnage, gets to reveal that biomechanical killing machines from the future can have their sensitive sides.

While the rewriting of Arnie's persona smacks of commercial cop-out, a sop to the Kindergarten Cop audience, this strategy really pays off when it comes to Patrick's villain, who is constructed from a liquid metal that can shape itself into anything it wants and also pull itself back together if blasted apart. A high-tech version of the Blob, utilising some of the most astonishing and surreal effects ever filmed, Patrick's T-1000 stands as one of the great monsters of the cinema. Like all Cameron movies, this shuffles its character stuff out of the way in the first two-thirds, and then delivers a succession of untoppable climaxes that are routinely out-awesomed by the next set-piece. Because it is a sequel, it's less satisfying than the more idea-driven original, but this is still top-flight kick-ass entertainment, and firepower fans will be in Heaven when Arnie does his shotgun twirl.

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Because it is a sequel, it's less satisfying than the more idea-driven original, but this is still top-flight kick-ass entertainment
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