25. EMPIRE MAGAZINE GREATEST: Terminator 2: Judgement Day

September 20, 2018

Director: James Cameron
Screenplay: James Cameron, William Wisher
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Robert Patrick, Edward Furlong, Joe Morton, Earl Boen
Runtime: 137 Minutes


Original UK Release: 1991




Terminator 2: Judgement Day begins with the anticipation of the same formula as the original, and then proceeds to deconstruct everything that you thought you knew going in. Changing expectation with any sequel is one thing, but it’s always difficult to create one that evolves the story naturally without feeling like a mere extension – and this is one of the greatest examples of it done faultlessly.


The original cast is back, but under different circumstances. Schwarzenegger is no longer the destroyer but the protector, a spectacular subversion that places him as both guardian and father figure to the young John Connor (pitched perfectly by Furlong). The emotional bond that is granted to the machine is something beautiful, while Schwarzenegger redefines himself yet again in the role that launched him.


Linda Hamilton is a totally different beast too; a hardened warrior that had not escaped from the previous film unharmed, and weary of her alliance to her former enemy who is now replacing the fatherly void left by Reese in her son’s eyes. The progression of the plot following the original is also compellingly believable as new characters are introduced to the world through changed circumstances, while Robert Patrick’s new antagonist is a remarkable, digital/practical nightmare that ages gracefully.


L.A. is still there, but it feels like a different world, a 90’s landscape just pulling out of the 80’s. Taking the action to exotic new expanses gives a heavier Road Warrior edge to events, and the action scenes themselves are incredible practical achievements that exemplify the best of the entire decade.


While still following the originals loose structure, this is a far deeper, broader, bigger and more emotionally captivating film that its predecessor that never falls short in its execution or storytelling - a masterpiece of both 90’s and action cinema.

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