Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines Review
More than ten years after the events of Terminator 2, John Connor (Nick Stahl) is living “off the grid” – no home, no official record, so that he cannot be found. As the man who will save humanity from the machines, he’s survived two attempts to kill him, once before he was even born. Now that his mother has died, he is even more alone. Meanwhile, the newest and most advanced Terminator to date, the T-X (Kristianna Loken), materialises in present-day Earth. At the same time, a replica of the original Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) also materialises, sent from the future to protect John Connor at all costs.
By this time, Connor has taken refuge at an animal clinic run by Kate Brewster (Claire Danes), who happens to be a) an ex-classmate of his, and b) the daughter of the army General (David Andrews) who is in charge of maintaining US security against the machine threat. Once the film gets that rather unbelievable contrivance out of the way, it settles into what’s basically a two-hour chase movie, one on a very big scale indeed. One of the film’s most spectacular setpieces comes half an hour in, and involves a truck, a motorbike, a large crane and a huge amount of building damage.
The first two Terminator films both rewrote the book on the SF/action movie, and it’s fair to say that the genre is still walking on the ground broken by them. Inevitably, Terminator 3 – which no doubt is intended as a return to Arnie basics after a series of flops – exists in the shadow of its predecessors. But if there’s nothing very original here, it’s certainly very well done. Jonathan Mostow previously directed Breakdown and U-571, which certainly demonstrated a flair for this sort of thing. He does a more than efficient job at the helm, commendably briniging the film in under two hours and not outstaying its welcome. Some have found the humour in the script obtrusive. I can’t say I did, and it’s worth pointing out that the earlier two Terminators weren’t devoid of laughs either. On the other hand, the ending is unusually downbeat for this sort of film. Arnie is in great shape in one of his signature roles. Claire Danes isn’t an actress you’d normally expect to see in a film like this, but she’s quite engaging. Newcomer Kristianna Loken is an imposing presence as the unstoppable T-X. However Nick Stahl (stepping into a role that Edward Furlong played in Terminator 2) tends to be overshadowed by his fellow cast members.
It’s been a summer where rather too many blockbusters have failed to deliver: The Matrix Reloaded was a pompous bore, and Hulk tried and failed to make something deeper out of a comics movie. So it’s nice to be able to praise a film that does exactly what it says on the tin.
For another opinion, read Graham Hill's review here.