Film review

Arnie Dreamer

DIRECTED BY Jonathan Mostow

STARRING Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nick Stahl, Claire Danes, Kristanna Loken

Opened August 1, Cert 12A, 109 mins

So far, 2003 has been heaving with lacklustre sci-fi epics. Enter the joker in the mega-budget pack: Terminator 3, the sequel no one wanted to see, starring an ageing icon 10 years past his best and directed by someone nobody's heard of. It could only end badly, right?

Wrong—T3 is the balls-out, gag-fuelled thrill ride of the summer, 109 minutes of outrageous apocalyptic carnage heaving with back-to-basics Arnie one-liners and franchise-undermining humour.

Eight years has elapsed since John Connor and his indefatigable robot nanny dodged Judgement Day. Since then, mommy Sarah Connor has died of leukaemia and Edward Furlong has morphed into In The Bedroom's nervy but heroic Nick Stahl. Stahl's Connor lives on the streets, trying to avoid another visit from his machine opponents. But 20 minutes in, they've tracked him down and he's on the run from the new, improved, deliciously female T-X (Loken)—just as deadly as Robert Patrick's T-1000, with the added ability of being able to control machines. Connor hooks up with old flame Kate (Danes) and yet another copy of Arnie's good ol' T-800 (sent back once again to save Connor's arse) before trying to escape T-X and prevent the US military from launching Skynet and bringing about armageddon.

U-571's Jonathan Mostow (whose 1997 suspense debut, Breakdown, is an Uncut favourite) turns out to be an inspired choice for director. The film matches its predecessors in terms of relentless pacing and full-on action sequences, but it's devoid of James Cameron's pompous, epic touch, replacing portentous myth-building ruminations on the relationship of man to machine with sly, sight gags and sardonic dialogue. And Arnold seems to be thoroughly enjoying himself, back in his signature role after nearly a decade of howlers. It's easy to write him off as a relic of the '80s action hero genre, but seeing him here in leather and shades reminds you of how iconic the Terminator is, even now.

Against the odds, this is 100 per cent rollercoaster fun.

Rating: 4 / 10


Newsletter


Editor's Letter

The 35th Uncut Playlist Of 2014


Weird serendipities aplenty this week: versions of "O, Death" on two albums I downloaded one after another, by Mike & Cara Gangloff and Bessie Jones; dovetailing into Sea Island overlap between Jones and Loscil. It makes for a nice blurring between time and genre with, say, the Gangloffs...