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

Action Sequence Two:

Sarah's breakout from the hospital is the second major dynamic action sequence in the film. As she struggles to escape from her room, the T-1000 liquid metal android morphs himself into the black-and-white tiles of the floor. After the security guard's feet are shown walking through the frame and making contact with the floor, the floor ripples and moves up to slowly take the human shape of the guard - a extraordinary visual effect. The guard turns around and is disturbed to see his mirror image/double in front of him. In another computer-generated image, his head is impaled by a thin steel rod that snaps out like a stiletto from the T-1000's finger - when the rod is released with a visceral sound, the man drops to the floor. The guard's body is dragged to a closet and deposited there.

Now freed from her cell in another part of the hospital after engineering an escape, Sarah clobbers the night attendant from behind with a broken-off mop handle from the utility closet, drags his body to her cell, and locks him in with his own keys. Tension builds as three elements are cross-cut together. In her bare feet, Sarah prances cat-like down the hallway with the baton in her hands. The T-1000 morphs back into his cop disguise as he searches for her. And the T-800 Terminator and John race on the Harley motorcycle toward the hospital, knowing that Sarah is the T-1000's next logical target. In the nurse's station, Sarah knocks down an orderly, slams Dr. Silberman with her baton and breaks his arm ("There are 215 bones in the human body. That's one! Now don't move"), and then takes him hostage. He asks with a terrified look on his eyes: "What are you going to do?" To prove her dangerous potential, she fills a syringe with a poisonous, industrial strength Liquid Rooter.

When John and the Terminator pull up at the hospital's entrance and the guard gate, John forces his machine/friend/protector to remember his non-violent credo, making him swear to it:

John: Now, you gotta promise me you're not gonna kill anyone, right?
Terminator: Right.
John: Swear.
Terminator: What?
John: Just put up your hand and say, 'I swear I won't kill anyone.'
Terminator: (mimicking the hand gesture) 'I swear I will not kill anyone.'

Faithfully keeping his promise, the Terminator pulls out his .45 pistol and shoots the security guard in both knees, telling John: "He'll live." They drive into the open gate.

Sarah jabs the syringe with blue liquid against Silberman's neck as they begin moving toward the outside entrance. At the security checkpoint, she forces the attendants to open the barred door and they proceed through. An attendant in hiding lunges toward Sarah's hand with the syringe, pulling it away from Silberman's neck. She scrambles off down the corridor as the panic button is pushed and alarm bells begin to sound. As she is pursued running through the corridors, she rounds a corner - elevator doors open and the leather-clad, T-800 Terminator steps out in front of her. His head swivels toward her as she brakes and slides onto the floor. It is her worst nightmare. Freaked out, she scrambles on the slippery floor, clawing and spinning to get away. Sarah doesn't see John step out from behind the Terminator and try to stop her: "Mom. Wait!! Mom!"

Sarah races back toward the orderlies - back the way she came. The white-clad attendants tackle her in the hallway as she hopelessly screams: "He'll kill us all!" The Terminator subdues all the hospital personnel by hurling them senseless toward windows and walls. John kneels by his mother's side and tries to snap her out of her nightmare. The Terminator extends his hand toward her to help her up - he politely adds:

Come with me if you want to live.

[This phrase reminds her of Kyle Reese's statement to her, when she was attacked by the first Terminator in The Terminator (1984).] John reassures her: "It's OK, Mom. He's here to help." In a daze, she gets up by taking the Terminator's hand.

And then thirty feet away on the other side of hospital lock-out bars, the T-1000 Terminator emerges. He momentarily stops at the bars and then oozes and squeezes his shape through them - a stunning, computer-generated image. His body divides like jello as it passes through, reforming and reshaping perfectly on the other side. Silberman's jaw gapes open - a plastic syringe cover that he has been holding in his teeth falls from his mouth. The T-800 Terminator yells to Sarah and John to race toward the elevator: "Go! Run!" There at the elevator door with his shape-changing arm, the T-1000 slices through the steel of the elevator door and prys it open. His head is blown apart by the Terminator's high-powered, rapid-fire Browning shotgun - it is splayed into two parts. The liquid metallic head quickly reforms itself.

Down in the garage, Sarah commandeers a hospital security patrol vehicle. They jump inside and roar backwards toward the exit, as the T-1000 has morphed himself as a big metallic blob down the elevator shaft. He runs at them, heaves himself with a lunge at the car's trunk, where he sinks a metallic metal crowbar shape through the trunk lid. His feet are dragged on the pavement as the car careens through turns and picks up speed down the road. He pulls himself up and smashes the car's rear window. The Terminator hands the wheel over to Sarah and leans out the window, firing point-blank into the T-1000's hook-hand arm and severing it. The liquid-metallic killer falls off the accelerating car and rolls when he hits the pavement. John grabs the remains of the android's crowbar hand stuck in the trunk and hurls it onto the street. The T-1000 walks up to the now-liquid blob - it crawls and rejoins itself to the cop's shiny shoe. Back at the scene of the hospital escape, a motorcycle cop rides up and asks the T-1000: "You OK?" The metallic android replies: "Fine. Say, that's a nice bike," implying that it will soon be stolen.

At a rundown, abandoned gas station, they hide the security vehicle in the garage. The Terminator sutures a wide gash in Sarah's right shoulder blade. Sarah returns the favor by removing bullets from his broad, muscled back - repairing the cosmetic damage. John learns that the Terminator can live "a hundred and twenty years" on his existing power cell and that he has the ability to learn from experience:

John: Can you learn stuff that you haven't been programmed with, so you can be, you know, more human? And not such a dork all the time.
Terminator: My CPU is a neural-net processor...a learning computer. The more contact I have with humans, the more I learn.

The next morning, the Terminator breaks into a station wagon outside the garage, smashes the cowl around the steering column, and then turns the stub of the lock mechanism to start the car. John finds the car keys in the sun visor and dangles them in front of the Terminator, reminding him: "Are we learning yet?" They head south away from the city to get as far away as possible.

On the way, they function like a family unit - the Terminator becomes the surrogate father figure John never had. John teaches the Terminator to talk cool and use slang as he becomes more humanized and less of a killing machine:

Sarah: Keep it under sixty-five. We don't want to be pulled over.
Terminator: Affirmative.
John: No, no, no, no, no. You gotta listen to the way people talk. You don't say 'Affirmative' or some s--t like that. You say, 'No problemo.' And if someone comes off to you with an attitude, you say 'eat me.' If you wanna shine them on, it's 'Hasta la vista, baby.'
Terminator: Hasta la vista, baby.
John: Yeah, or 'later, dickwad.' Or if someone gets upset, you say 'chill out.' Or you can do combinations.
Terminator: 'Chill out, dickwad.'
John: That's great! See, you're getting it.
Terminator: 'No problemo.'

Outside a roadside truck stand, they stop for cheeseburgers and watch some kids play with authentic-looking guns. They are only water pistols, but John solemnly comments:

John: We're not gonna make it, are we? People, I mean.
Terminator: It is in your nature to destroy yourselves.
John: Yeah. Major drag, huh?
Mother of Fighting Children: Break it up before I wring both your necks.

Sarah is obsessed about stopping the creation of Skynet - ultimately responsible for the catastrophic, cataclysmic nightmare scheduled to happen on August 29, 1997, when the supercomputer will gain self-awareness and unleash the destructive cyborgs in a nuclear war to destroy humans it views as a threat. The Terminator tells her that the man who is directly responsible for building Skynet is Miles Bennett Dyson, the director of Special Projects at Cyberdyne Systems Corporation. In a few months, his work will ultimately lead to a revolutionary type of microcomputer and the creation of Skynet:

Terminator: ...a revolutionary type of microprocessor...In three years, Cyberdyne will become the largest supplier of military computer systems. All stealth bombers are upgraded with Cyberdyne computers, becoming fully unmanned. Afterwards, they fly with a perfect operational record. The Skynet funding bill is passed. The system goes on-line on August 4th, 1997. Human decisions are removed from strategic defense. Skynet begins to learn, at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 am, eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug.
Sarah: Skynet fights back.
Terminator: Yes. It launches its missiles against their targets in Russia.
John: Why attack Russia? Aren't they our friends now?
Terminator: Because Skynet knows that the Russian counter-attack will eliminate its enemies over here.
Sarah: Jesus.

Sarah realizes that she must stop Dyson's creation of the diabolical microprocessor that he has not yet created. [The microchip that he has been working on at Cyberdyne was salvaged from the wreckage of the original T-800.] She can only follow one course of action to short-circuit the future and prevent the design of the military supercomputer which will orchestrate a nuclear war in late August 1997 - eliminate him. She wants to know everything about him - his appearance and where he lives.

At the dusty, desert refuge as they approach in their car, a row of rattlesnake heads on the fence are focused on. There are junk vehicles (civilian and military), assorted trash and pieces of dilapidated furniture, and an aging house trailer. From behind a stripped Huey helicopter, Enrique Salceda (Castulo Guerra) emerges with a gun trained on her:

Sarah: (in Spanish) Enrique? You here?
Salceda: (He trains a 12-gauge pump shotgun on her) You pretty jumpy, Connor.
Sarah: Y tu. Siempre como culebra ("And you. Always like the snake...")

From a run-down bus, Salceda's wife Yolanda (Diane Rodriguez) and her three children appear. On "weapons detail," the Terminator (nicknamed "Uncle Bob" by John) and John uncover a buried arsenal of weapons covered by a heavy sheet of steel plate. In the weapons cache, there are rifles, pistols, rocket launchers, mortars, RPGs, radio gear, ammunition, grenades, and a MAC-10 machine pistol. Sarah emerges in the yard dressed in boots, fatigue pants, and a dark green tank top. John tells the Terminator he grew up in a place like this: "I grew up in places like this, so I just thought that's how people lived - riding around in helicopters. Learning how to blow s--t up." The Terminator grins and takes a liking to a G.E. Mini-Gun, an awesome weapon.

As the Terminator works on the old Bronco pickup, replacing the water pump, John tells him about his longing for a parent and the paradoxical twists through time:

John: I wish I coulda met my real dad...They sent him back through time to 1984. Man. He hadn't even been born yet. It messes with your head...Mom and him were only together for one night, but she still loves him, I guess. I see her crying sometimes. She denies it totally of course, like she got something stuck in her eye.
Terminator: Why do you cry?
John: You mean people?...I don't know. We just cry. You know. When it hurts.
Terminator: Pain causes it?
John: Uh-unh, no, it's different...It's when there's nothing wrong with you but you hurt anyways. You get it?
Terminator: No.

They begin to bond as the Terminator learns about human emotions and feelings, and John has a male/parent/father figure to relate to. Sarah observes them from afar - in voice-over she assents to their growing friendship and the machine's undying devotion:

Watching John with the machine, it was suddenly so clear. The Terminator would never stop, it would never leave him. And it would never hurt him, never shout at him or get drunk and hit him or say it was too busy to spend time with him. It would always be there and it would die to protect him. Of all the would-be fathers who came and went over the years, this thing, this machine was the only one who measured up. In an insane world, it was the sanest choice.

As the desert sun casts a reddish glow over Sarah seated at a picnic table, she re-experiences the nightmarish apocalypse to come in a powerful sequence. She closes her eyes, and then pictures herself walking toward a playground park (the same one viewed in the opening credits), dressed in her paramilitary garb. Children are playing on swings, slides, and a jungle gym. Outside the playground, she watches through a chain-link fence. One of the mothers assisting her two-year child is Sarah herself - appearing as a pink-dressed waitress! In a slow-motion image, Sarah grabs on the fence and shakes it, silently yelling and screaming out: "No!" Her shouts and entreaties to the mother and child fall on deaf ears. Then suddenly, the sky explodes.

The white light ignites everything like match heads. Sarah sees her dream self burst into flame - her skin burns away. Los Angeles landmarks are pulverized as the shockwave of the blast hits the downtown area. The howling wind blasts apart the once-human figures of bone and ash. Sarah's own figure explodes down to skeletal remains.

Sarah awakens from the nightmare of the future. Cynical as a result of knowing about the holocaust to come, her visceral reaction propels her into pursuing her next course of action. She looks down at the words she has unwittingly carved in the table: "NO FATE." She stabs the knife down into the words. In a quick cut, she emerges from the trailer grimly dressed and armed as a female fighting machine - a kind of 'terminator.' Sarah drives off in the station wagon without stopping to speak to anyone. John realizes she is fulfilling her need to make future generations safe by somehow changing the present: "The future is not set. There is no fate but what we make for ourselves." Instinctively, they both know she is headed to computer scientist Dyson to "blow him away" - she has become a cold-blooded, unfeeling, "terminator" assassin.

Terminator: Killing Dyson might actually prevent the war.
John: I don't care. Haven't you learned anything yet? Haven't you figured out why you can't kill people? (The Terminator reacts blankly)

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