Back in 1984 a strange life form came to earth in search of Sarah Connor and ultimately left a trail of destruction. It’s the same terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) who now shows up in the year 1991 intent on getting the right clothes, transport, weaponry, and cool shades to aid in the completion of his new mission. It’s the same terminator, except not really because he has been reprogrammed to protect young John Connor who will be the future savior of civilization as we know it. Right now he is a 10-year-old juvenile delinquent living with foster parents. His mother, the aforementioned Sarah Connor, is locked up tight in a mental institution after the events in the previous film.
But there also is a second more highly advanced terminator that Skynet has sent to assassinate Connor, and it becomes obvious that he is in grave danger. Both cyborgs converge on his location, and he flees with the help of his new found guardian. The terminator is programmed to listen to him and over time they form a bond with John teaching him slang (ie. the famed “hasta la vista baby”) and perhaps more importantly that he cannot kill everyone he sees.
They go to rescue Sarah from captivity on John’s bidding, but the other terminator has the same idea. The resourceful mother has plans of her own that are disrupted by witnessing her former executioner with her son close in toe. It’s all very confusing as they must alert her to the real danger and escape the present dangers.
Sarah leads them out of the city to the home base of a loyal friend who can give them resources and, above all, weapons. She sets her sights on Miles Dyson, the man who unwittingly developed the technology that would end in “Judgment Day.” In a fit of vigilantism, she mercilessly goes after the innocent man, for his work which would cause millions of future deaths. It takes the arrival of John and the Terminator to get her to calm down.
With Dyson’s help, they head to his office to destroy the prototypes for good, but they get a little company and it turns into a firework show complete with pyrotechnics and blockbuster explosions.
Yet again the shift-shaping, poly-alloy terminator pursues the trio and this time they are trapped inside of a steelworks. It’s a fitting locale for a desperate showdown with a wounded Sarah, a battered Terminator, and a thoroughly frightened John. Some last-ditch heroics finish off the futuristic assassin, but that is hardly the end of the story. John must say goodbye to his friend and probably the best male role model he’s ever had. He was a faithful companion to John, and he, in turn, came to understand why humans cry. There are just some things that cannot be expressed through words, protocol, or any type of rationale. The future is still to come, but at least for the present is safe.
I am unabashed to call Terminator 2 thoroughly enjoyable, because it embraces the fundamentals of a great sci-fi blockbuster, while never quite losing its human component. Perhaps we could have used more character development and less action, but the characters played by Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, and Arnold Schwarzenegger have enough depth to make them work proficiently. In fact, they are icons by now and I can understand why. James Cameron certainly knows how to develop thematic spectacle to the nth degree and this installment is no different. This sequel is bigger and better than the original 1984 film, which is a testament to not only the special effects but the story and characterizations. Hasta la vista Baby. Until next time anyway.
“If a machine, can learn the value of human life, maybe we can too” ~ Sarah Connor