Summer of Action: Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
It is a summer full of action on the blog this month, and we continue with that theme today. So far we have revisited Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark as well as the Bruce Willis favorite, Die Hard. This week we continue with a look at Terminator 2: Judgment Day. It was written by James Cameron and William Wisher and directed by Cameron. The film follows an attempt on the life of John Connor, a future leader in the human resistance, when he is still a child. The film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as one of the Terminator models and sees a return for Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor. The film’s cast also includes Edward Furlong, Robert Patrick, and Joe Morton. Terminator 2: Judgment Day went on to become the highest grossing film of 1991 and has been recognized for its advancements in computer generated imagery. Not only in this one arguably one of the greatest action films of all time, but it is also considered by most to be the best in the Terminator franchise.
So, why does Terminator 2: Judgment Day rank so highly in the world of action films?
1) Those Visual Effects
For a film that was released in 1991, one cannot help but notice how incredible the visual effects still look. Honestly, they look incredible from the moment the opening battle sequence begins with hovering machines and vehicles fighting against the human resistance. Those impressive effects only continue with the introduction of the T-1000 and his shapeshifting form. This character design is impressive, and it is mind boggling to watch him reform after the effects of bullets and fire. These effects were groundbreaking in 1991, but it is also nice to see that they still hold up 27 years after the fact.
2) John’s Initial Rescue
One of the best sequences in the film begins with John Connor’s introduction to the two battling Terminators. The moment that Schwarzenegger shields John is a game changing moment for the audience, and the shootout between the two Terminators is an exciting scene. However, the best part of this sequence is that it results in one of the most intense chase sequences in the film. The T-1000’s pursuit of John in the tractor trailer is relentless, and that jump from the overpass to down below is a fantastic stunt. It only improves with Schwarzenegger’s pursuit on the motorcycle and him transferring John to his bike while driving.
This whole sequence is incredibly fun to watch, and it is perfectly capped off with the explosion of the truck.
3) The Big Twist
I probably should not call it a big twist since it is revealed in the first fifteen minutes of the film, but from the moment Arnold Schwarzenegger appears on the screen, the audience feels a sense of dread. He was a relentless villain in the first film, and his assault on the patrons of a bar only seems to confirm that he has been sent to kill another member of the Connor family. That history and set up is part of what makes John’s rescue at the shopping mall all the better. Not only does he protect John, but he also becomes a positive, almost fatherly influence on the future leader.
Thank you, James Cameron, for deciding to turn the franchise on its head with this twist of character. It was a brilliant choice.
4) The Cyberdyne Showdown
Of course, the events at Cyberdyne and everything following to the end of the film is a true highlight of the story. The encounters with the Terminator and the police provide for more than a few exciting scenes, and the fiery explosion provided by Miles Dyson is quite the spectacle. Of course, the sequence only improves with the Terminator’s creative rescue of Sarah and John in the police van. The shootout between Sarah while the T-1000 is flying the helicopter is an impressive spectacle, and it only ends in the most exciting way with the showdown at the steel mill.
There are so many impressive, action filled moments in this showdown that it is almost difficult to count them all, but it’s definitely worth the watch.
So, is Terminator 2: Judgment Day on your list of favorite action films? What are some of your favorite moments?
Be sure to share them in the comments below, and be on the lookout next Friday as we explore another action film favorite.
Mollie is a film enthusiast, aspiring writer/screenwriter, and a lover of all things Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Doctor Who. She is the co-founder of The Digital Shore (@thedigitalshore) and Above The Line (@atl_movies). You can follow her many adventures through Twitter and Instagram at @mcbeach.