Filmsite Movie Review
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
Pages: (1) (2) (3) (4)
Plot Synopsis (continued)

Action Sequence One:

Both Terminators search and converge on John where he plays videogames in the arcade. [Coincidentally, one game is Missile Command - the object of the game is to prevent the nuclear destruction of cities! John loses the game when the world gets nuked. In another game, SEGA's "Afterburner" simulator game, John shoots down MIGs.] When warned that a cop is "scoping" for him, John retreats out the arcade's back door.

As John runs full speed down the mall service corridor toward the parking garage, the Terminator emerges ahead of him and removes his shotgun from a long box of red roses. The box falls to the floor with the roses spilling out - his heavy boots crush the flowers with a loud crunch. Transfixed by terror, John is in the direct line of fire as the Terminator aims his gun at him! The second Terminator, dressed in a cop's uniform, rounds the corner behind John. The first Terminator yells to John: "Get down!" and unexplicably fires at the cop with one blast - the cop is blown backwards but is unharmed. The Terminator shields John's body and blocks the bullets as the cop empties his pistol into the cyborg's back - the Terminator then turns and fires repeated shotgun blasts into the cop's body. Incredibly, there is no blood or broken flesh on either man. As the cop/Terminator lies stunned on his back, the bullet impressions/puncture wounds on his chest miraculously heal - he is a newer model Terminator (the T-1000), a liquid metal Terminator with pseudomorphic capabilities. He is capable of imitating anything that he touches. [The T-1000 model is the advanced cyborg assassin which is impossible to damage permanently - The Terminator from the first film, the less-advanced T-800 series model, is the good-guy human protector.]

After rough hand-to-hand combat during which the T-800 is thrown through a clothing store's front window in the mall, John races to his motorbike in the parking garage with both Terminators in hot pursuit. The T-1000 runs after John on his bike through the garage and then into traffic out on the street, where he tosses the driver out of a big-rig tow truck. As John weaves in and out of traffic on the street and down into the concrete-lined flood control channel, the T-1000 follows him in the massive vehicle, crashing down 15 feet from an upper highway onto the canal. The T-800 Terminator follows the action from above them on a service road which runs parallel to the canal. The big-rig becomes a 'convertible' when the top is sheared off by one of the overpasses. The T-800 sails his bike down into the canal, miraculously keeping the bike upright when it bottoms out on the ground. The T-800 catches up to John, sweeps the kid off his machine and swings him onto his own Harley. Too big to fit through a concrete abutment, the big rig at full speed crashes into the divider which bisects the canal into two channels - the small Harley passes through one of the channels ahead of the massive truck. The rig explodes into flames ignited after the collision. From the inferno, the figure of the T-1000 emerges from the flames as a smooth, chrome-surfaced man - a featureless, liquid mercury-like shape. With each step, the human features and colors of the shape emerge on the surface - chameleon-like, it is transformed back into the human cop.

Following this first, kinetic action sequence, John is entirely confused by the experience. He tells the Terminator: "OK. Time out. Stop the bike!" in order to ask him some questions about who saved him and why:

John: Now don't take this the wrong way, but you are a Terminator, right?
Terminator: Yes. Cyberdyne Systems, Model 101...
John: You're like a machine underneath, right? But sort of alive outside?
Terminator: I'm a cybernetic organism. Living tissue over a metal endoskeleton.
John: This is intense. Get a grip, John. OK, uhm, you're not here to kill me. I figured that part out for myself. So what's the deal?
Terminator: My mission is to protect you.
John: Yeah? Who sent you?
Terminator: You did. Thirty-five years from now, you re-programmed me to be your protector here, in this time.
John: This is deep...So this other guy? He's a terminator like you, right?
Terminator: Not like me. A T-1000. Advanced prototype.
John: You mean more advanced than you are?
Terminator: Yes. A mimetic polyalloy.
John: What the hell does that mean?
Terminator: Liquid metal.

According to the Terminator, he has been programmed by the resistance movement of the future to protect the boy with the same kind of determination, ruthlessness, and strength that his predecessor used to try to 'terminate' Sarah (in the first film). They must leave the city immediately, but John wants to phone his foster parents anyway to "warn them." During the conversation, it is revealed that things are not normal - Janelle speaks nicely to John while the dog (named Max) is barking loudly in the backyard. She extends her arm toward a complaining Todd, shutting him up (off-camera). The Terminator takes the phone from John, perfectly imitates John's voice, and tests her authenticity by asking about the dog using a fake name: "What's wrong with Wolfie?" She responds: "Wolfie's fine, honey. Wolfie's just fine." Sensing the trick by the T-1000 to lure John home by impersonating his mother, the T-800 immediately hangs up the receiver and warns John:

Your foster parents are dead.

The dangerous, shape-changing T-1000 android has assumed the human shape and voice of Janelle, disguising itself as another character. As the camera pans to the right, her arm has elongated and become a long sword-like spike (similar in shape to the kitchen knife she was cutting with), impaling a milk carton container and Todd's head to the kitchen cabinet behind him. As she withdraws the arm, Todd's bloody body slumps to the floor. The android changes from Janelle's shape back into the cop disguise - the liquid metal re-shapes itself in a startling visual effect. John learns about the next generation cyborg's awesome ability:

John: You're telling me it can imitate anything it touches?
Terminator: Anything it samples by physical contact.
John: Get real. Like it could disguise itself as a pack of cigarettes?
Terminator: No, only an object of equal size.
John: Why didn't it just become a bomb or something to get me?
Terminator: It can't form complex machines. Guns and explosives have chemicals, moving parts. It doesn't work that way. But he can form solid metal shapes.
John: Like what?
Terminator: Knives and stabbing weapons.

In the interview room at the Pescadero Hospital, a drugged-out Sarah is shown surveillance pictures of the Terminator from 1984 taken in the West Highland police station when he killed seventeen police officers. Staring listlessly into space, she is also shown recent pictures of the identical-looking Terminator at the mall. Police detectives interrogate her about the assassin-Terminator (in the first film), pleading with the distant Sarah to react: "Ms. Connor. We know you know who this guy is. Look. I just sat here and told you that your son is missing. That the foster parents have been murdered. We know this guy's involved. Doesn't that mean anything to you? Don't you care?" Although she has been told that the Terminator is back, she is unwilling to cooperate - the questioners turn to leave. Sarah slips a paper clip into the palm of her hand when they aren't looking.

In a parking lot late that night, John tells the Terminator how his mother ended up in the mental institution with her psychotic, driven and obsessed mission to learn survivalist tactics to achieve her goals:

John: We spent a lot of time in Nicaragua and places like that. And for a while there, she was with this crazy ex-Green Beret guy, running guns. Then there were some other guys. She'd shack up with anybody she could learn from so she could teach me how to be this great military leader. Then she gets busted and it's like, sorry kid, your mom's a psycho. Didn't you know? It's like, everything I'd been brought up to believe was all made of bulls--t? I hated her for that. But everything she said was true. She knew and nobody believed her. Not even me. Listen, we gotta get her out of there.
Terminator: Negative. The T-1000's highest probability for success now would be to copy Sarah Connor and to wait for you to make contact with her.
John: Great. And what happens to her?
Terminator: Typically, the subject being copied is terminated.
John: S--t! Why didn't you tell me?! We gotta go right now!
Terminator: Negative. It's not a mission priority.

John quickly realizes that the Terminator is "his" - it will obey his commands - the android is programmed to follow his instructions precisely:

John: You have to do what I say huh?
Terminator: That's one of my mission parameters.
John: Prove it! Stand on one foot. (The Terminator complies and lifts one leg) Yes! Cool. My own terminator!

When two guys working on a car nearby appear to help John after hearing him yelling, he tests his new-found authority/responsibility with the android on them. He orders the Terminator to get rid of them - and then afterwards, delivers a non-violent, moral directive to teach the android that killing is wrong:

John: Jesus, you were gonna kill that guy.
Terminator: Of course. I'm a terminator.
John: Listen to me very carefully, OK? You're not a terminator anymore. All right? You got that? You just can't go around killing people!
Terminator: Why?
John: Whattaya mean, why? Cause you can't!
Terminator: Why?
John: Because you just can't, OK? Trust me on this. Look. I'm gonna go get my mom. And I order you to help me! (John hands the Terminator the .45)

The T-1000 pulls up in the squad car at the front gate of the Pescadero Hospital and is waved through by the security guard. In Sarah's cell, a night attendant tightens up her restraints and then animalistically runs his tongue along her cheek to provoke a response - there is none. After he leaves, she uses the purloined paper clip to unlock and release her restraints - the T-1000 stalks toward her down the hospital corridor.

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