Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Terminator 2: Judgment Day ★★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

This movie is insanely woke: The bad guy looks like a cop, the state-sanctioned idea that killing innocent people is necessary to achieve one's greater objectives is challenged, and of course the police shoot and kill the black guy instead of the wanted fugitives. While Schwarzenegger and the original Terminator are indelibly part of Eighties iconography, this is a quintessentially Nineties movie. As the Cold War ended, Americans looked optimistically to forming a more peace-oriented Union. This ultimately wasn't to come--and not just because of 9/11, although that shattered the fantasy in the collective national psyche. The characters in Terminator 2 are trying to prevent a future where technological advancement is utilized for mass destruction. Its title character is a killing machine who is learning how not to kill, and who ultimately sacrifices himself for the greater good. (His ability to learn is kind of an echo of the anticipated retraining that people like the guys at the steel mill in the final battle would need as manufacturing jobs became a smaller part of the American economy and computing employers like Cyberdyne--the location of the climactic standoff with police--reigned supreme.) Although this movie ends on a high note, ultimately, in the Terminator series as in real life, the threat of war and killing machines rears its ugly head and says, "I'll be back."

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