Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

Arnold Schwarzenegger,Nick Stahl, Claire Danes, Kristanna Loken. Directed by Jonathan Mostow.
Running Time: 125 mins
Rated: MA 15+

To my knowledge Arnold Schwarzenegger has never won an acting award. He has a physical rather than a dramatic presence in any film. And even though some of his lines and his delivery of them have become famous,
writers rarely give him large slabs of dialogue. It's claimed that Arnie's fee for Terminator 3 breaks down to US$21,000 a word.

Ten years on from where we left off in Terminator 2 John Connor (Stahl) is now in his early 20s. He fears for his future and lives as an itinerant on the streets of Los Angeles. The machines are still out to kill him before he gets the chance to lead a human uprising against them in 2023. John meets up with his childhood sweetheart, now veterinarian surgeon, Kate Brewster (Danes), while stealing drugs from her animal hospital. Soon they have other things to worry about as the female terminator, T-X (Loken), tries to kill both of them. Enter Arnie as another model of the original terminator, the T-800 charged with saving John and Kate. He is up against it this time because the T-X is a far superior model to the T-800.

The original Terminator was a smash hit for Arnold Schwarzenegger. It created his career and made him one of the most powerful actors in Hollywood. Subsequently he has been able to have a significant influence on the development of the scripts for the Terminator series.

In the first film the terminator was the baddie. In Terminator 2 and 3 the T-800 destroys all sorts of objects around him, but never kills a human being. Arnie has a public profile to protect and a political career to pursue. It's preferable now for him to be cast as the person protecting the one who is destined to save the human race. I assume John Connor's initials were not randomly selected. Don't underestimate the conservative political ideas running throughout this film, and how they serve the ambitions of a wannabe Governor of California.

Terminator 3 continues the tradition of the other films in having spectacular special effects. It also has several long and complex car chases, a couple of shocks worthy of the horror genre, and a roaring sound track. Furthermore, even within the world it creates for itself, the story makes no sense, but who goes to a Terminator film for the plot?

What's different about this film is that Arnie sizes up to a girl-machine and until the very end she looks as though she is going to win the day. The other deft touch is the self-mocking humour Mr Schwarzenegger brings to his role and the delivery of almost everyone one of his golden lines.

This is one of those rare films where what you see is precisely what you get. Pay your money and take your chances.

Fr Richard Leonard SJ is the Director of the Australian Catholic Film Office.

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