Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Terminator 2: Judgment Day ★★★★½

“I know now why you cry, but it’s something I can never do.”


There’s a hot zone in any child’s young life, where they are susceptible to obsession, be it for books, music, art, or action films with body counts in the thousands. Growing up when I did, my Arnold hot zone was the films Predator, Running Man, and Total Recall. The first Terminator was all over HBO, so I saw that a thousand times, too. Commando and Raw Deal just weren’t on the level of those others, and by the time Terminator 2 came out, I wasn’t at the age where this kind of film could own me. I watched it and liked it, but my friends and I didn’t randomly say lines from it to each other In the back row of health class like we did with, “HE HAD TO SPLIT,” or, “TWO-WOOO-OOOO WEEKS... GET READY FOR A SURPRIIISE!”

It’s interesting how my relationship to Guns N’ Roses parallels my relationship with Arnie. I was completely obsessed with Appetite For Destruction, and G N R Lies not nearly as much (I would suggest not throwing that on these days). While “You Could Be Mine” and Use Your Illusion were both huge hits, I was also aging out of my G N R obsession (and nothing they could do would hold up to Appetite for Destruction).

Last night I rewatched T2, and it was the end of a loooong day. The first section is good, but contains some preposterous scene-chewing by Linda Hamilton. The moment when she first sees Arnold in the hospital, though, is still incredible. 

Honestly, the second section is kinda boring. They go to Mexico, hang with friends, talk about DA FUTURE, and dream about nukes. I was exhausted watching it, and I’m not that ashamed to say I fell asleep before the last sequence. I lost consciousness with the firm conclusion that, after all these years, the first Terminator held up much better than T2. It’s relentlessly dark, with incredible “driving a car through the police station waiting room” action scenes, and none of the cornball “Edward Furlong teaches Arnold how to give high fives and say stuff that I don’t remember ever being cool, even in the 90s” scenes.

But I woke up early and figured I’d throw on the last forty minutes of T2. I had forgotten that this last sequence is James Cameron’s Michael Jordan dropping 63 on the Celtics in the playoffs. Nakatomi Plaza with nukes, a helicopter chasing a truck on the highway, Linda Hamilton reloading a shotgun with one arm, Robert Patrick having the perfect face to be blasted into endless permutations of liquid silver, and limbs-losing Arnold spinning into shooting position.

I’m not going to say that T2 is better than the first Terminator, cause while the highs in T2 are higher, the first Terminator is brilliant from start to finish. I’ll take slasher Arnold over “Hasta La Vista, Baby” Arnold, cause the Arnold I grew up on quips as he rips off limbs, and, frankly, I appreciate that. I will say, however, that James Cameron never made anything better than the last 40 minutes of T2.

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