Terminator 2: Judgement Day - The Action Blueprint

Updated: Mar 8

As the old saying goes: “The children are the future” .. and in a world where the first thing we see is a child’s playground engulfed fully in flames, it is safe to say that our “future” is indeed, in grave danger.

In James Cameron‘s 1991 sci-fi, action thriller, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, we see all aspects of commercial film-making come together as 1970’s youngest ever “Mr. Universe” winner, Arnold Schwarzenegger puts on a leather jacket and becomes “bad to the bone.”

With a mixture of star power, stakes, production value, and a villain that you will never forget, I’m here to tell you personally, that Terminator 2 is the most complete action movie to date.

Star Power

The biggest star of the 1990s, by all measures, was none other than California’s eventual Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. A body-builder turned action star with the voice of angry, melting chocolate and the charisma of a man born for the limelight, Arnold was the T-800, also known as “The Terminator”.

Starring in several other action films in the decade (Total Recall, True Lies, Kindergarten Cop and more); all based solely around Schwarzenegger‘s physique, signature voice and his automatic box-office draw, he was a mainstay in homes and theaters all across the world. His signature catches phrases “Hasta la vista, baby” and “I’ll be back” quickly caught fire after the release of Terminator 2 and cemented the Austrian performer’s legacy forever.

We started this article mentioning the opening scene of Terminator 2 as signs of “grave danger” and we haven’t changed our tune just yet. The sight of James Cameron‘s post-apocalyptic world being destroyed by vicious fire and brimstone is truly chilling and one of the most effective shots I have, personally, ever seen.

In this film, Skynet is an artificial intelligence system that becomes self-aware and destroys all humanity in the year 2011. One of the film’s protagonists, John Connor (played by a young Edward Furlong), is destined to be the one to save the world, but only if Skynet doesn’t catch him first. As an adult, in the year 2011, John Connor creates the T-800 in an effort to stop his own death as a young boy.

Confused yet? Yeah, well… get in line. John Connor creates this machine in hopes that he can stop Skynet’s own creation, the T-1000, from going back in time and killing the young, mischievous boy before he can grow into a bonafide hero.

Confused yet? Yeah, well… get in line. John Connor creates this machine in hopes that he can stop Skynet’s own creation, the T-1000, from going back in time and killing the young, mischievous boy before he can grow into a bonafide hero.

The effects that we get to see in James Cameron‘s 1991 action film are great for their time and are especially gripping when it comes to our legendary antagonist, the T-1000, who is made completely of liquid metal and can shape-shift into any person or thing of same mass and size, are truly special for its time. Though comparatively, it may not stand up to later works that display production value on a much more sophisticated scale, it was what set the standard for film-making at the time and did more than enough in helping to tell the story of The Terminator.

Along with quality explosions, high energy gunfights and a chase scene that lasts almost 10 minutes and spans through 3 different locations, Terminator 2 is a film, nay, THE film that defined a generation of action movies in Hollywood.

The Bad Guy

There almost isn’t an image more memorable than seeing the T-1000, played by Robert Patrick, running at full speed as if he is Usain Bolt in the men’s 100-meter dash, chasing after a young boy on a motorbike. He is emotionless, determined and ruthless in his efforts to kill the future commander of The Resistance and the man who will eventually take down Skynet. In John Connor’s first encounter with the T-1000, we see them in an arcade as the T-1000 poses as an officer of the law searching for a delinquent child. As his friend tips him off, John Connor makes his exit but not before the T-1000 spots him and shoves several small children to the ground in an effort to catch the young boy. This quickly morphs into an all-out chase scene and we get to see the T-1000 really get going.

At one point, John Connor races down a bright, California rode on his junior-sized motorbike as the T-1000 crushes traffic behind him in a massive, black 18-wheeler big rig. Connor only barely escapes by the help of Schwarzenegger and his borrowed shotgun, but the T-1000 has not given up just yet. We later learn that the T-1000 has murdered John Connor’s foster parents and has no qualms about taking every life in his path to complete his mission.

I have nothing against other actions movies of the last 30-40 years, including true greats such as Die Hard, The Matrix, Mad Max: Fury Road and even more, but if you were to ask me what the one action movie I would suggest would be if I wanted you to understand what is necessary to create the perfect one? It would be Terminator 2, one hundred times over.

From the film’s dire stakes to its top-grossing action-star hero, this movie checks all of the boxes on what a crowd wants to see – and not to mention it was done in the ’90s before technology took a turn for the better and we became able to create whatever we wanted to see on screen.

James Cameron‘s 1991 action film is a classic and will forever be remembered as one of the best actions movies ever made. Do you agree?

What do you think is the best action film of all-time and why? Let us know in the comments below!

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