Terminator 2: Judgment Day ★★★★★

There are few perfect films. Terminator 2 is one of them.

What separates this from lesser action films is its attention to character and - most importantly - character-driven action. While the action scenes are shot impeccably well, creative, well-paced, and large in scale, they are also - most importantly - large in emotion.

Most Hollywood movies get this wrong. Action scenes should not be a break from the plot or the character development, and nor should the character stuff be a break from the plot. Everything should be integrated.

With Terminator 2, the turning points in the character development and relationships *are* the turning points of the story. And these points coincide perfectly with the major action scenes.

John Conner begins the story hating his mother for lying to him about Terminators and his place in the future, and for getting herself locked up in a loony bin. He learns that Terminators are real upon seeing Arnold shot multiple times at the mall, and after the bike chase through the drainage canal, he understands his mother was not lying to him at all. His goal at this point is to rescue his mom from the Pescadero state hospital.

The set-up scenes with Sarah at the hospital and the sequence with Dyson at Cyberdine pull double duty of establishing where these characters are at this point in the story as well as set-up the locations for the two biggest action set-pieces of the second act.

Sarah has a singular mission of getting free to keep her son safe. The action at the hospital - the biggest action scene of the story thus far, is also the most emotional moment - when Sarah and John see one another for the first time in years.

The next major story/character/action turning point is when Sarah goes off to murder Dyson at his home. She fails, learning that "you just can't go around killing people", as John stated earlier. After Sarah has learned this the hard way (being unable to pull the trigger when nobody was stopping her) then and only then can the major players proceed to Cyberdine to destroy the research and evidence.

Every action scene allows the characters to grow and the plot to develop.

This is what allows for such an emotionally touching finale. The movie is more than just a trio of heroes running from a bad guy. It's a family drama - one that functions better than most *actual* family drama films.

I've seen this film more times than I care to count (it was the most I had ever anticipated a film's release [and still is], and my age was still in single digits in 1991), but it only gets better with each viewing.

For my money, there has never been a better sci-fi/action film.

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