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

Action Sequence Three:

The next scene is in Miles Dyson's home with his family. While his son steers a remote-controlled truck through the corridors of the house (tracked by the camera), Dyson works at a computer terminal monitor. A red pin-point of light from Sarah's laser designator targets Dyson's back and slowly moves up to his head. She is poised to pull the trigger - when she does, Dyson simultaneously bends down when his son's truck hits his leg. The monitor screen behind him is blown out. A frenzied, crazed Sarah blasts the rest of the rounds through the window of the house, tearing his desk and computer to shreds.

Then, she strides purposefully toward the house with a .45 packed in her hand, wounding Dyson in the left shoulder as he flees. Dyson's son shields his father, as Sarah holds a gun to his head, psych-ing herself to pull the trigger: "It's all your fault, mother f--ker, it's all your fault." But she can't terminate Dyson on the floor - with his wife and son on his side. She backs away toward a wall with the gun lowered, and then slides to her knees. John and the Terminator appear at the home and kick in the front door. John comforts his mother and she tells him: "I love you John, I always have."

To show Dyson who they are - to get a glimpse of the machines of the future - the Terminator cuts his bare left forearm with a knife and then strips the skin off of it like a rubber glove, revealing a bloody skeleton made of bright metal. The Terminator demonstrates his arm's flexibility, making a fist and then extending his skeletal servo-hand - it is identical to the one in the vaults of Cyberdyne. In a brief voice-over as they sit at the dining room table, Sarah speaks, explaining that the T-800 warns against Dyson's work on current experiments:

Dyson listened while the Terminator laid it all down. Skynet. Judgment Day, the history of things to come. It's not every day that you find out you're responsible for 3 billion deaths.

Dyson is convinced that his technologically-futuristic work that will someday fashion Skynet must be short-circuited: "There's no way I'm going to finish the new processor now. Forget it. I'm out of it. I'm quitting Cyberdyne tomorrow...We'll have to destroy all the stuff at the lab, the files, the disk drives and everything I have here."

As their ally in a mission to destroy the fateful artifacts, Dyson reveals that they must destroy the chip in the vault at Cyberdyne, the CPU that was taken from the first terminator. (Sarah is finally vindicated, exclaiming: "Son of a bitch. I knew it!") They decide to proceed to Cyberdyne Systems immediately - as the median strip on the pavement rushes at the camera in the darkness, Sarah presents another voice-over:

The future, always so clear to me, had become like a black highway at night. We were in uncharted territory now, making up history as we went along.

Action Sequence Four:

The entry into the Cyberdyne factory is the start of the film's fourth major action sequence. After managing to get upstairs into the security area, they are detected and denied access to the lock on the vault after silent alarms have been triggered. Dyson exclaims: "We have to abort," but Sarah won't allow it: "No. We go all the way." Downstairs, one of the security guards phones an alert to the police: "Just send everything you've got in the area right now." The Terminator blasts his way into Dyson's Artificial Intelligence Lab (the heart of the computer complex) with his M-79 grenade blaster, setting off numerous fires in the process and triggering the halon fire-control system. All but the Terminator must don breathing masks.

At the Dyson home, the T-1000 cyborg discovers burning records in a trashcan. As he surveys the wreckage, he hears a walkie-talkie report about a 211 in progress at the Cyberdyne Building - there are multiple suspects: one named Sarah Connor, an escapee from the State hospital, and another one wanted for the killing of police officers in 1984. [He will follow the leads to Cyberdyne.]

Police cars and helicopters surround the Cyberdyne building, readying themselves for the assault. Using his portable computer and ribbon wire that he used to break into the ATM machine, John unlocks the card-key lock, exposing the vault-key. He grabs it and runs toward the lab, on the way visually noticing the assembly of SWAT teams and helicopters around the building. In the main lab, the Terminator sets up explosive cans of flammable polydichloric euthimol, rigged and wired to explode with radio-control. As they leave, the Terminator heroically promises that he will take care of the police, AND not kill anyone:

Terminator: I'll take care of the police.
John: Hey wait! You swore.
Terminator: (He turns and grins) Trust me.

From an open second-story window, he stands and opens fire in a one-sided battle, assaulting and strafing the police forces in the parking lot below. With his TermoVision detection system, he scans and finds he has kept his promise: "HUMAN CASUALTIES: 0.0"

Meanwhile, Dyson and John unlock and enter the vault which contains the Terminator relics - the important computer chip and mechanical arm. John smashes the glass containers, pockets the CPU, clutches the steel hand - and then runs out with Dyson. As they prepare to leave the lab with Dyson carrying the radio-controlled detonator, a SWAT team kicks open the doors. Dyson is mortally wounded, but he still holds the detonator in his hand while slumped on the floor. As John, Sarah, and the Terminator make their way out of the building, Dyson buys time as long as he can, hyperventilating and gasping.Then at the point of his death, he drops a heavy object [it is a shattered piece of the prototype processor] on the plunger/detonator switch - it triggers the building's violent explosion - it is a blast which completely takes out most of the second floor. With a piece of the destructive technology that would decimate civilization, he saves mankind by killing himself and destroying his own life's work.

Out of the flames and smoking debris drives the T-1000 motorcycle cop - he refuses to give up haunting them. In the corridor of the lobby, the Terminator, John, and Sarah are confronted by a SWAT team which hurls a tear-gas grenade in their direction. When they are pinned down, the Terminator turns and tells them:

Stay here. I'll be back.

Not able to "drop him" as he defiantly strides directly into the conflict, deliberately taking many bullet hits. He unhurriedly draws his .45 and shoots each of the SWAT team members in the knee. He also hits two of them with grenades from the tear-gas launcher, and then fires tear-gas canisters into the parking lot. The Terminator climbs into the driver's seat of a SWAT van and drives it through the glass doors into the lobby of the building. He slides the van, their escape vehicle, to a stop with its back doors positioned across the corridor leading to the elevators. John and Sarah are rescued - they leap into the back of the van before it takes off back across the lobby.

From the second floor, the T-1000 looks down from his Kawasaki motorbike and sees the van escaping. He sizes up the situation and then roars full throttle through a plate-glass window, rocketing across in mid-air and slamming into the side of a police helicopter. The T-1000 lets the bike tumble to the pavement below and climbs up to the Plexiglas canopy, smashes its head through, and literally pours itself through the jagged glass hole into the passenger's seat. While still re-forming itself into the shape of the police cop, the T-1000 turns to the helicopter pilot and says calmly: "Get out." The pilot nods, opens the door, and leaps. The T-1000 Terminator then pursues the fleeing SWAT van with the helicopter down a major freeway.

Action Sequence Five:

The remaining sequence of the film is the fifth non-stop action sequence. With the chopper close behind, Sarah fires at it with an M-16 after covering John with bulletproof vests to protect him. The chopper maneuvers under an overpass and the T-1000 simultaneously fires and reloads - he sprouts another pair of hands to steer the chopper and handle his weapon. When Sarah is hit in the left thigh, the Terminator slams on the van's brakes. She is thrown forward in the van, sending the helicopter slamming into the back of the van in a suicidal maneuver. While the helicopter disintegrates on the highway, the van flips sideways and skids along the concrete and eventually grinds to a stop.

A tanker truck behind the helicopter shudders to a halt and the shaken driver gets out to survey the wreckage. Before he can finish his sentence: "God damn, are you all right...?" the T-1000 walks up to him and sticks his arm/swordblade through the man's chest. Then, the cyborg climbs into the cab of the tanker and continues the pursuit - the tanker-trailer passes by the camera to reveal that the tanker is carrying liquid nitrogen. The Terminator, Sarah, and John drive away in a run-down truck whose driver has stopped to give aid. As the tanker gains distance on them, John tells the Terminator to "Step on it."

Terminator: This is the vehicle's top speed.
John: I could get out and run faster than this.

The tanker rams the small pick-up truck and then sandwiches their vehicle against the center divider guard-rail. The Terminator gives the wheel to John, leans out the driver's door and fires a grenade at the front of the tanker. After taking an off-ramp, the tanker rams the back of the pickup, sending both vehicles careening into the entrance of a steel mill. The Terminator leaps from the pickup onto the tanker's hood and unloads his entire gun's magazine directly through the windshield into the T-1000. Then he reaches through the shattered windshield and grabs the steering wheel, throwing it hard to the left to intentionally swerve the tanker. But it jackknifes, swings sideways, and topples to its side, sliding at top speed on the concrete toward the steel mill while throwing up sparks.

The tanker-trailer smashes into the concrete supports of the mill, twists and breaks open like a soda can, and spills a river of liquid nitrogen. The T-1000 is covered with the frozen liquid at -230 degrees - his body becomes a huge icicle. His feet freeze to the ground as he walks, and his legs become so brittle that they break off at the ankle like pieces of glass. When his hand snaps off at the wrist, the T-1000 looks down in amazement at his shattered stump. The Terminator draws his .45, aims at his immobile target, and wishes it goodbye with a humorous throwaway line:

Hasta la vista, baby.

The single shot blows the T-1000 into tiny fragments of frozen polyalloy. Although it appears that the T-1000 is finished for good, such is not the case. The heat from the steel foundry melts the millions of T-1000 shards and liquifies them. The tiny droplets move together and merge into larger globules of mercury, forming larger masses. The Terminator (with a shattered leg badly damaged) warns Sarah and John: "We don't have much time." As they move away, the T-1000's shoulders, head and body shape (in liquid metal form) begin to hunch and rise up from the floor. The T-1000's human features come together completely.

Sarah (now badly wounded and weak), John, and the Terminator stagger into the inner, maze-like workings of the machinery in the steel plant. Devoted to saving their lives, the Terminator stays behind them to fight the T-1000 android. John protests that they have to separate:

Terminator: Go! Run!
John: No, we gotta stick together.
Terminator: John, you've got to go!...Go! NOW!

When the Terminator cannot use his TermoVision detection system to locate the T-1000 due to the intense heat, he is ambushed and his M-79 (loaded with a grenade) is knocked away. In hand-to-hand combat, the two battle together. In an amazing special effects sequence, the T-1000 is slammed against a wall - he instantly morphs himself around from back to front in less time than it would take to turn around. The Terminator smashes his fist through the T-1000's face, but the morphing, liquid creature's head changes into a hand. The hand twists the Terminator's wrist and tosses him against a machine where his arm is pinned down and smashed at the elbow.

The T-1000 turns and decides to pursue Sarah and John. The Terminator takes a steel bar and heroically frees himself from the gears by wrenching his crushed arm off at the elbow. Sarah lowers John down a chain and onto a conveyor belt after they are confronted by the T-1000. She takes a stand by firing her riot-gun into the T-1000's head, leaving it with a gaping hole through one eye - but it quickly reforms itself. As she fumbles to reload the magazine, the T-1000 pins her shoulder back with a sharp, steel needle. Using her as a hostage, he forces her to call John back:

T-1000: Call to John.
Sarah: No.
T-1000: (sadistically) I know this hurts. Call John.

He tortures her by painfully twisting the needle in her shoulder. With his index finger, he extends another gleaming needle directly toward her eye, commanding: "Call to John now." From behind him, the Terminator comes to the rescue, slicing the T-1000's body in half with a heavy steel bar. In another massive struggle, the two androids fight - the Terminator receives damaging blows from a two-ton girder repeatedly smashed into his frame. His right-eye servo is exposed, and his skull and chest are crushed. As he crawls toward his M-79, the T-1000 stabs a steel bar into his back, pinning him to the steel catwalk. The red light in his eye goes out. Sparks discharge from his body when his power cells are ruptured and discharged. Sarah reaches for her shotgun to make one final effort to protect John, now that the Terminator seems 'terminated.' (But the Terminator's eye blinks as he finds alternate power sources, removes the steel bar from his back, and retrieves the loaded M-79 gun.)

John finds his mother hobbling toward him, but then another identical Sarah rises from behind her. For a moment, John doesn't know which Sarah to believe. The one with the shotgun cautions: "Get out of the way, John" and he dives away. The imposter Sarah turns and reforms into the T-1000. Sarah loads and fires again and again, forcing the android backward with each blast. But at the edge of the pit of molten steel, her gun clicks empty and she realizes she only has seconds until the T-1000 reforms itself. After she has run out of ammunition, the T-1000, now reassembled, gives her a wry grin, and wags his finger "No" at her. The Terminator rises on the chain drive behind them with the M-79 aimed at the T-1000. Sarah and John instinctively duck as the grenade is launched into the belly of the creature. When it explodes, it rips a gaping hole in the android, causing it to let out an inhuman, screeching, inside-out screams.

Losing its balance, it topples over into the molten steel vat where it flops around in its death throes, transforming itself into various mutations - Janelle with her blade arm, the hospital security guard, and the chrome motorcycle cop. Unable to re-form, it finally dissipates into the fiery molten steel. The Terminator lightheartedly quips: "I need a vacation." They look over the edge of the pit:

John: Is it dead?
Terminator: Terminated.

From Sarah's backpack, John removes the metallic hand of the first terminator and the chip and tosses both of them into the smelter. John and Sarah are relieved - not realizing that the Terminator must also be destroyed to insure that its own technological micro-chip will never fall into the wrong hands and set the awful, nuclear-war-torn future back into motion:

Sarah: It's over.
Terminator: No. There's one more chip. (He touches a finger to his forehead) And it must be destroyed also. (He hands Sarah the controls for the motorized chainfall) Here. I cannot self-terminate. You must lower me into the steel.
John: No. No! NO!
Terminator: I'm sorry John. I'm sorry.
John: (pleading) No, it will be OK. Stay with us. It will be OK.
Terminator: I have to go away.
John (with tears in his eyes): No, don't do it. Please don't go.
Terminator: I must go away John.
John: No. No wait. Wait! You don't have to do this.
Terminator: Sorry.
John: No, don't do it.

Emotionally attached to the Terminator, John is devastated and breaks down, making one last attempt to order him to stay. The android touches the tear on John's cheek with his metal finger before committing his sacrificial act:

I know now why you cry. But it's something I could never do.

They hug each other, and the Terminator shakes Sarah's hand. As he steps out onto the chainfall, he tells both of them: "Goodbye."

Slowly, the Terminator machine nobly descends and sinks into the steaming hot steel for the good of humankind. His metal hand is the last thing to disappear - it forms a "thumbs up" in the final seconds. The Terminator's TermoVision shows glitched read-outs and then collapses to a bright red, solid line that turns off like a television set - it signals his technological death.

The image of John and Sarah at the mill dissolves into a shot of a traveling highway strip at night under a car - an ambiguous ending. Sarah delivers an epilogue voice-over to honor the cyborg whose actions were of a higher nature:

The unknown future rolls toward us. I face it for the first time with a sense of hope, because if a machine, a Terminator, can learn the value of human life, maybe we can too.

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