It has been 12 long years since
Terminator 2 came out in 1991.
Since that time, I have been boring my friends by telling them that
we need T3 because obviously the future had not been changed at the
end of T2. If the future
had been changed, then Reese never would had been sent back in time in Terminator to save and then knock
up Sarah Connor, and John Connor would never had been born. And so,
it is that at the start of T3, I have been vindicated. The timeline
has been delayed but not changed. Skynet is still going to take over and
try to destroy humanity. John Connor is still destined to lead the resistance.
When the action picks up in T3 in the present day, Sarah Connor is
dead and John (Nick Stahl) is now an adult living off the grid, still fearful
that a new Terminator may be sent back to get him. His fears are about to
come true. A new model Terminator (Kristanna Loken) even more advanced
than the T-1000 seen in T2,
appears in LA. In hot pursuit is yet another old T-800 model (Arnold
Schwarzenegger), sent back to protect John. I don't want to give away too
much since there isn't much to give away but let me just say that through
a series of coincidences, John ends up running away from the new Terminator
with a woman (Clare Danes) with whom he has both a past and a future.
Much like the new Charlie's Angels movie, in which each scene is a parody of an old movie or TV show, T3 is also a parody but only of itself. Since Schwarzenegger as Terminator is such a cultural icon, you expect people in the movie to be asking him for his autograph. T3 seems to acknowledge this fact by letting Arnie play the Terminator as a little joke that he is sharing with the audience. So this movie is really Terminator Lite. But it is quite enjoyable even if the Terminator is not quite so threatening as he used to be. He's like an old friend. You know that he's going to show up in a bar naked and ask for someone's clothes, that he can't go out without a cool pair of shades and that he really likes big trucks.
It's nice to see Arnie back in a role that he and we feel comfortable with. He gets a lot of funny bits. Loken, the latest model turned actress, is good as the new female Terminator. She is obviously a Terminator with a sense of fun. As she creates mayhem and tries to kill our heroes, she always has a little Mona Lisa smile on her face. Loken has so few lines that she trained with a mime to get her messages across with only facial expressions. Stahl, best known for The Man Without a Face (as a kid) and In the Bedroom (as an adult) replaces Edward Furlong who played John Connor in T2. Clare Danes does pretty well with the thankless role of love-interest/damsel-in-distress. She is making a nice comeback after the twin disasters of The Mod Squad and Brokedown Palace, with roles in Igby Goes Down, The Hours and now T3. As John Connor says in the movie, "You remind me of my mother." Speaking of Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton). She is missed. One other old face, Dr. Silberman (Earl Boen), Sarah's psychiatrist, makes a brief amusing appearance.
Once T3 gets an early car chase out of the way, the story really moves along. Jonathon Mostow (Breakdown, U-571) does a good job taking over from James Cameron (The King of the World). The storyline doesn't matter much anyway. I was taken aback at the end when the movie was suddenly over without the requisite final scare just as we think the heroes are finally safe. Anyway, T3 is not art. It isn't even really a serious action film. But taken as a parody of itself, it's pretty good fun.