Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
2/4
poster

Details & Information from IMDB

Genre Sci-Fi
Year 2003
Duration 109 min
Rating 6.8 out of 10
Description: More than 10 years after the events of 'Terminator 2', John Connor (Stahl) now lives 'off the grid' - invisible and untraceable to the horrific machines from the future that tried to eliminate him. With their plans frustrated, the machines now send a third Terminator - the T-X (Loken), a lethal female Terminator far deadlier than the T-1000, back through time to hunt down important figures in the future war. However, the resistance has ALSO sent an altered CSM-101 Terminator (Schwarznegger) back to protect John from her. Through a series of near-lethal encounters, John meets his future wife - and co-leader in the resistance, Kate Brewster (Danes). They soon discover that Skynet is closer than they thought to taking control of U.S. military computer systems, and they attempt to warn people in charge, including Kate's dad, a USAF General. The T-X, however, has beaten them to it, and Skynet launches its horrific nuclear war that is the frightening prelude to the war against the machines. Will John, Kate - and an outdated CSM-101 Terminator - be able to defeat Skynet's deadliest assassin cyborg?
Comments: Following James Cameron's original in this series, few could have projected Arnold Schwarzenegger's rise to Hollywood legend. The first film was a low-budget, B-grade (in theme and style only; the story was superb) sci-fi actioner. Arnie may have gone on to star in ill-advised yet somewhat bearable comedies, and the budget for "T2: Judgment Day" may have been among the biggest at the time, but at heart, Arnie was always a B-grade action movie actor. Films like "Raw Deal", "Total Recall", "Commando" and "Predator" reinforce his B-grade credentials. And as the final film in his career, "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" is the fitting B-grade send-off for the most popular action star of the last twenty years.

Fans will be familiar enough with the story; a cyborg is sent back through time from a post-apocalyptic future where man fights machines for his very existence. The cyborg's mission is to destroy, or terminate, the leader of the human resistance, a certain John Connor. Of course, the human resistance sends back its own defence for the protection of Connor, first as a human solider to protect John's mother Sarah (Linda Hamilton) in "The Terminator" (1984), then as a reprogrammed Terminator that bears an exact resemblance to the original cyborg, famously played by Schwarzenegger. Now, some 12 years after "T2", Arnie is sent back again, this time to protect a twenty-something John Connor (played by Nick Stahl) and a woman, Catherine Brewster (Claire Danes). After the failure of Arnie's T-800 in the original film, Robert Patrick's T-1000 in "T2", the machines decide on sending back a female cyborg, the T-X, played by newcomer Kristanna Loken.

"Terminator 3" starts as each other film in the series, with the two cyborgs entering earth nude and seeking out appropriate clothing. Thereafter it's a hunt to find Connor and Brewster first, and many cars, buildings and people are destroyed in the process. A stunning action set-piece, and without question the action highlight of the film, involves a crane on a truck driven by the T-X disecting a row of shops, all the time with the T-800 hanging on for dear life. This is the part of the film where the action transcends its B-movie confines. Generally however, the film sticks to being B-grade. What makes it B-grade? It's the lack of grandiosity, the almost claustrophobic nature of the sets, the lack of a huge cast and the cheap(ish) special effects. This is not a James Cameron movie, and although director Jonathan Mostow tries hard, he lacks that grand canvas approach that has made Cameron's films so successful.

While the story may be familiar, it takes a turn when we discover that Brewster's father is the man responsible for the managing of Skynet, the computer programme that subsequently launches attacks against man. This subplot is the best narrative transition from the first two films, which essentially were exactly the same. In fact, the subplot itself delivers a surprising and highly effective twist at the conclusion of the film. You can't help but think that this would have been the best way to end "T2", rather than the schmoltzy goodbyes between the Terminator and John Connor (then played by Edward Furlong).

Furlong's absence from this film, while not perfect for continuity reasons, is not a major factor. Stahl plays Connor with immediacy and power and while he cannot always project the mood of a man with the world's future on his shoulders, he does work well with Schwarzenegger and Danes. She herself is really only working on autopilot, and although she shows occasional signs of depth, the role, or moreso the sci-fi nature of the plot seems to escape her. Loken is suitably wooden as the emotionless T-X, and lacks the weasel-like menace of Robert Patrick's T-1000. Her battles with Arnie are impressive however.

And then there's Arnie himself. He's always been great at non-emotive, physical acting, and he once again performs well here. The Austrian accent seems thicker than ever, and although he moves a little slower, he still projects power and strength. His whole career was built on films that emphasised his physical presence, filling the screen with his muscles and big aura. But every action hero's career comes to an end. In a fitting epitaph to his career, the Terminator speaks of being an obsolete model, without any purpose. Just as well Arnie ended his career here, with a role and film that symbolised Arnold Schwarzenegger the actor perfectly.