A decade has passed since John Connor (Nick Stahl) helped prevent Judgment Day – the day machines launched a nuclear attack that killed three billion people instantly. Even though the day has come and gone, Connor, now 22, continues to live “off the grid” – no home, no credit cards, no phone and no job. No record of his existence and no way he can be traced. Just in case.
His hiding turns out to be all for nothing, as the T-X (Kristanna Loken), Skynet’s most sophisticated cyborg yet, has been sent back from the future to finish off Connor. But this time, he’s not the only target – a veterinarian named Kate Brewster (Claire Danes) is also on the hit list.
Where there is one terminator, there is bound to be another (Arnold Schwarzenegger). This one has been sent back by to protect Connor and Brewster and is a replica of the model that protected John as a teen and is now considered obsolete. As if this Terminator’s inability to stop the T-X permanently isn’t bad enough, he arrives with the happy news that Judgment Day is inevitable and only a few hours away.
I have to admit that I was not looking forward to a third Terminator film. I loved the first two films, written and directed by James Cameron. But at the end of T2, I considered the Terminator saga a done deal (Cameron probably thought the same). Hearing that Jonathan Mostow would be taking over the directing duties did little to sway my level of anticipation on this outing. His first film, Breakdown, was fun but his follow up feature, U-571, should have been renamed Das Bore.
Terminator 3, much to my pleasant surprise, turned out to be much better than it had any right to be. It’s a lean, mean sci-fi flick that may not be in the same league as Cameron’s films, but it still manages to entertain, something you can’t say about too many of this summer’s big action flicks (cough! Matrix Reloaded! cough!).
The film does have its share of faults though and most of those lie in its screenplay. The story is decent enough, but the multitude of plot holes, rather cheesy dialogue and thin supporting characters keep it from really reaching the creative heights of Cameron’s films.
Still, Mostow, helped by impressive visual effects and solid performances from Stahl, Danes and, of course, Arnie, does a good job in keeping the film moving right along. The action scenes are expertly handled – in particular a chase that seems to destroy half of Los Angeles. The humour that permeates most of the film, thanks in large part to our favourite robot actor, is also quite welcome.
While Terminator 3 is hardly a genre classic like the first two Terminator flicks, it’s fun and is certainly the best Arnold Schwarzenegger film (for what that is worth) to come out since True Lies. Rumour has it that if this entry does well, there will be a fourth film in the series. My advice to Arnie and crew – quit while you’re ahead.