Best Action Scenes of All-Time: The Terminator Edition - The Part-Time Critic

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Best Action Scenes of All-Time: The Terminator Edition

*Last Updated: 3/20/2022

The Terminator franchise is currently a bit of a joke in the world of cinema, but it hasn't always been that way. The 1984 original by James Cameron was a surprise hit and felt like a mashup between a science fiction war film with John Carpenter's Halloween with a little bit of Rambo thrown in as well. I guess it's not surprising that the soundtrack feels just like that as well. The first film was a solid science fiction action film that had big moments but was mostly grounded in a "horror/stalker" genre (likely due to budget constraints. The art direction, makeup, animatronics, and world-building were notable enough that any potential sequel would have a lot to draw upon. It was the 1991 follow-up, also directed by James Cameron, that brought the franchise to be an absolute game-changing. It raked in more money than R rated film before it, was a crowd-pleaser, and had a huge impact on pop culture. It was a genius move by Cameron to have Arnold (who between 1984 and 1991 became a mega-star) become the hero in this one and introduce a new model of Terminator.

 Unfortunately, the subsequent follow-ups to Cameron's first two films were middling to bad. Jonathan Mostow's 2003 film Rise of the Machines featured some big action but didn't give us any memorable characters and essentially erased the second film with its, "Judgment Day is inevitable" ending. Six years later Terminator: Salvation was released and was the first film to cover the post-judgment day world of the story. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a mess, and also failed to produced anything close to a lovable character that audiences were clamoring for more of. So the decision became to give the series a bit of a reboot and in 2015 we got Terminator Genisys which saw itself as a follow-up to second film - kind of erasing the previous two films. Unfortunately, abysmal box office and poor critical reception led Paramount to scrap any sequel plans...again they failed to produce any new characters audiences wanted to see. Finally and most recently, James Cameron help produce Terminator: Dark Fate in 2019 which also kinda pretends its a follow-up to the second film, erasing the films that came before it. You catch a trend here?

Yeah - after the second film, this franchise continued to put out sci-fi action films to lesser and lesser acclaim and popularity. I think the overall issue is that any attempt the films made to stick to the Cameron template always felt redundant and lesser than while any attempts to do something new never felt creative and exciting enough. The result was repition with diminishing returns. Despite this, the franchise has at least one all-time film in it (some might argue two, but not me) and has contributed several iconic action sequences to cinema. 

For those interested in knowing before you get into the ratings, here's how I would rank the five films:

5. Terminator: Genisys (C-) 2015
5. Terminator: Salvation (C) 2009
4. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (B-) 2003
3. Terminator: Dark Fate (B) 2019
2. The Terminator (B) 1984
1. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (A) 1991

Let's get to the list, shall we? Since the franchise isn't that large I've decided to provide commentary for each one. What do you think? Did I get it right?

All Terminator Franchise Action Sequences Rated & Ranked

GRADE: C-
31. “Skynet Finale: Reese, Connor, & Marcus vs. T-800” -Terminator Salvation (2009)
- Commentary: Convoluted, confusing, and underwhelming. I’m sure the creatives thought they were springing quite a surprise on everyone by having Connor and Reese fighting a T-800 together at the end, but it just ends up being a complete letdown. Why? Because it mostly consists of slow running away, getting into an aborted fight where the T-800 hits the other guy far away until someone is in an area where they can use a stronger weapon on the T-800. It’s all lit poorly and confusingly – it’s just sad…and the worst offense…it’s boring.

GRADE: C
30. “Future Flashback: Disguised Terminator Infiltrates Base” -The Terminator (1984)
- Commentary: A short flashback (forward?) sequence where Kyle Reese remembers the trials of the future war. After being on duty he arrives at a base where he seeks rest and refuge. When he hears dogs barking he realizes a Terminator is trying to infiltrate the base. The Terminator gets in and opens fire with a laser type mini-gun. A few fight back, but it's worthless. A short pop of action here - not really meant to be too dynamic - more about setting the tone of dread and invincibility of these Terminators.

29. “Opening: Resistance Strike & Connor's Chopper is Ambushed” -Terminator Salvation (2009)
- Commentary: The opening sequence here sees John Connor go on a recon sequence but they are ambushed. It’s a good introduction to the apocalyptic/resistance aesthetic of the film, but it’s not much of an action scene. There’s a decent action beat where Connor’s helicopter is hit and taken down, but it feels a bit disconnected from the rest of the sequence.

28. "Arnold vs. Arnold" -Terminator Genisys (2015)
- Commentary: Up to this point in the film, the storyline we heard from the original Terminator is playing itself out again. As the bad guy Terminator asks the punks at Griffith Observatory for their clothes, another Arnold shows up and the audience realizes there is something amiss with the timeline. What follows isn't meant to be a full-on action sequence, but a little fun easter egg for fans. Seeing the two Arnolds beat up on each is a nice little moment - even if it doesn't register that high as an action sequence.

27. “Kyle Reese Arrives in 1984 & Runs from the Cops” -Terminator (1984)
- Commentary: Reese arrives stark naked, setting a tradition most later films would continue, and winds up taking pants off a homeless man. Cops discover him and a chase kicks off. Reese ducks into a clothing store (lucky) and then outwits the cops and runs off. It's low key, shot well, more for atmosphere and introduction of Reese, but it keeps the interest.

26. “Grace Arrives in 2019 and Takes Out a Squad of Cops” -Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)
- Commentary: Completely average little sequence to establish Grace as a strong force. Here she arrives into Mexico in the typical Terminator fashion and once the police surround her she kicks in to defend herself.

25. “Terminators Meet at the Kennel” -Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)
- Commentary: In this category for its simplicity and shortness not due to low quality. All the main characters wind up at an animal hospital and this is where Arnold’s T101 meets this film’s Terminator upgrade the T-X. Arnold ultimately rams the T-X with a truck to an explosive end.


GRADE: C+
24. “Marcus Attempts to Escape the Resistance at Night” -Terminator Salvation (2009)
- Commentary: What a strange action sequence to come at the midway point of the film…when the movie should be confidently unveiling or working towards the end push. Instead, the movie gets muddled down in a convoluted escape sequence at night that is hard to see, hard to get a geographical sense of, and even ends with an about face. It’s got nice production values, but it just feels confusing visually and doesn’t seem to help the story much. That Bale and Worthington here are playing such boring one note characters doesn’t help the case either.

23. “Marcus Attempts to Escape the Resistance at Night” -Terminator Genisys (2015)
- Commentary: There's a moment in the original Terminator film where Kyle Reese describes that the humans had essentially won the war, but the Machines had a plan B fallback - time war. They used a time machine, in desperation, to send a Terminator back to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor and prevent John Connor from being born and leading the resistance to victory. This is the re-creation of that sequence in a later film. It's okay - but there's a sense, unlike the future flashbacks in the other films, that this is largely just CGI. I don't mind CGI, but when it's not executed really well, things just don't have the weight and punch that even miniatures, animatronics, and other more primitive effects have. Led by John the resistance storms the base and a battle ensues. They get there too late though. 

22. “Cemetery Escape in a Hearse” -Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)
- Commentary: Cops trap the T101 and John Connor at a cemetery. They escape in a hearse and encounter the TX along the way. Jumping on top of the hearse, she is eventually knocked off when they go between the front and back tires of a semi and decapitate the car. It’s a nice stunt and a decent pop of action.

21. “Reese's 1984 Arrival Interrupted by T-1000 & Sarah Connor” -Terminator Genisys (2015)
- Commentary: Continuing the trend of imitating the 1984 original, but then providing a twist - Kyle Reese transports back to 1984, steals some pants, and encounters a cop. Only this time the cop is a T-1000 Terminator, the liquid changing type from the second film. A chase ensues similar to the original film, but Sarah Connor busts into the clothing store with an armored truck and saves Kyle.

20. “1984 Finale: T-1000 Strike Ends in an Acid Bath” -Terminator Genisys (2015)
- Commentary: The underdeveloped T-1000 in this timeline sequence meets his end here. For this film, Arnold and Sarah have been planning for this moment for over a decade and they are trying to lure the T-1000 to their location to that they can kill it. The T-1000 shows up early, pins down Arnold, and revivifies the old dead Arnold from earlier. Jai Courtney (whose character is just plan annoying in this film) ends up defeating that Arnold (in a non-descript I am running away but happen upon a gun that kills him way). Sarah lures the T-1000 down to a trap, with acid barrells held up in the ceiling. She shoots them out and the acid rains down killing the T-1000. An alright sequence, but ultimately feels forgettable.

19. “Opening: Glimpse into the War on the Machines” -Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
- Commentary: With narration from Sarah Connor, this opening sequence gives the audience a glimpse into what the future looks like for those humans fighting against the machines. We get an good-looking (awesome for 1991) little sci-fi battle here with lots of miniatures being used for the machines (over CGI). Even though it’s clear they are models, there’s just something tactile about models that hold up when CGI can just give you a meh feeling. There’s a couple really nice shots that set the tone here – one wide shot with giant robots on tracks and flying robots (which kind of look like the design Cameron would later use in Avatar as well). There is another shot with a rocket launcher taking out one of the flying robot machines that looks great as well. Can’t give this one greater placement due to its shortness and purpose – but it’s good stuff.

18. “Bunker Surprise Leads Golden Gate Chase” -Terminator Genisys (2015)
- Commentary: This sequence is a kind of false finale. Our heroes are gearing up in their bunker readying for the final assault when John Connor surprises them. A couple of grenades later and the bunker is toast, Connor is slowed down, and our heroes escape in a bus. Racing across the Golden Gate Bridge to get to Cyberdyne, John lands a motorcycle on top of the bus. Back and forth ensues, but John proves to strong and in a big moment the bus does a double flip in the air and comes to a crash. John gets away but the cops take our heroes in. On paper this is a better scene than what we get. It's fairly short, anti-climactic, and the CGI here just doesn't give things the weight it deserves. The truck flip in The Dark Knight felt way better because you knew it was real - even if it didn't do a double flip. Similarly, John's motorcycle stunt landing on the bus is meant to evoke T2 when Arnold landed his motorcycle into the LA aqueduct, but it only demonstrates the difference between doing it practical and doing it in CG. One is legendary and the other is a forgotten CGI moment that no one cares about.

17. “War Flashback: Reese Remembers Fighting the Machines” -The Terminator (1984)
- Commentary: Falling asleep, Kyle Reese remembers his war with the machines back in the future. It’s lower budget than the glimpse of the future war we get in the sequel, but I like this one a bit better. It’s more handheld with a focus on the guerrilla style warfare as Reese climbs up and over debris, keeping out of sight of land based and air based machines. He and a partner get explosive devices and throw them to tack down the track-based land machine, but his partner isn’t as lucky and gets brutally zapped by lasers in the process. Kyle takes the machine down and runs to a getaway vehicle that is ultimately overturned by lasers from the one of the flying machines. Can’t rate it too high since it’s short, but this is a nice sequence (the best of the three major flashbacks of the franchise) that I wish some future film entry would have eventually realized in bigger ways.

16. “EMP Pickup Leads to Military C-5 Escape” -Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)
- Commentary: A decent sequence, but ultimately a bit of action filler that doesn’t quite make good on its promise. After trying to secure an EMP, the Rev-9 shows up in a helicopter and chases the heroes to a military base where they board a C-5 to escape. That’s essentially what happens here – throw in some gunfire and decent camerawork and you’ve seen the scene.

15. “Hospital Fight: Arnold vs. John Connor” -Terminator Genisys (2015)
- Commentary: Bit of a spoiler here (but come one, consider what blog you are reading here) - John Connor becomes a villain in Terminator Genisys. He is compromised by the machines (turned into something "more") and sent back in 2014 to make sure that "Genisys" which is like the social media (internet of all things) version of Skynet goes on without a hitch. Sarah and Kyle believe that John is really him, but Arnold arrives and immediately takes him out with a shotgun. There's a silly bit of drama that doesn't make much sense, then we get a decent little fight between John and Arnold where they go smashy smashy through the hospital until they hit an MRI machine that locks them into place. Short, enjoyable, and one heck of a cool visual effect to enjoy in this one.

14. “Escaping Border Containment & the Rev-9” -Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)
- Commentary: Sarah, Dani, and Grace are caught crossing the border and are locked up in a Border Containment Center. Locked up and separated, the Rev-9 infiltrates and seeks to kill Dani. Both Sarah and Grace are able to escape their situations and both wind up in a helicopter with Dani escaping. The Rev-9 makes easy work of border agents but ultimately misses out on the ladies.

GRADE: B-
13. “Finale: Police Station, Helicopters, & Cyberdyne” -Terminator Genisys (2015)
- Commentary: One of those difficult sequences to rate because on paper - this is pretty epic. The sequence starts with a police station shootout as our heroes are attacked by John Connor leading them to jump into helicopters on the roof. They takeoff and are followed in another helicopter by John as they zoom between San Fran skyscrapers, shooting at each other, and barely escaping the ground and buildings. Eventually they end up over the bay and Arnold jumps out of the copter to take down John's copter. They end up crashing right at Cyberdyne. That's a finale in and of itself right? Well...like the bus chase earlier - the helicopter chase just feels so over the top and CGI laden that it never really works. In fact, most of the finale just feels like its happening - nothing hits hard, nothing feels like its really at stake. Much of that is because the way Connor's Terminator is designed (and templates from other films) we know he can't be stopped by anything other than some major industrial thing. They eventually end up in a fight at Cyberdyne and while there are a few nice back and forth visuals there - it all feels like filler since we know Connor can't be beaten. How many times can you watch people unload guns into a Terminator? There are parts here that by themselves are fairly impressive - like the 1 on 1 between Connor and Arnold. However, the entire sequence is so long, so exhaustive, and asks for so much suspension of disbelief - that it becomes wearying. I would have preferred a leaner but more intense and grounded sequence.

12. “Police Station Massacre: Sarah & Kyle Escape” -The Terminator (1984)
- Commentary: Fans of the franchise might be surprised that I've put this iconic sequence here. Let's just say the ending retroactively screws up much of it. This sequence is famed for the sheer audacity and confidence that the Terminator has in driving his car into a police station filled with cops and just walking through blasting them away one by one. The initial walk down the hallway resulted in a lot of dynamic deaths with force and gore. The Terminator takes out the lights and we really begin to feel the pressure for Sarah and Kyle. Our key policemen get automatic guns and fire at the Terminator but he barely flinches and takes them down. Eventually Kyle and Sarah just meet and escape without running into the Terminator. Yep, that's it, they just kinda leave. The reason this anti-climactic ending retroactively hurts this sequence, is that it leaves the only redeeming quality as "he killed those cops in dynamic ways!" - there's no real pushback and it never really slips into the serial killer stalker gear. Bummer. 

11. “Car Chase: Shotgun vs. Shotgun” -The Terminator (1984)
- Commentary: Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor are hiding out in a parking garage trying to get a car started. They don't realize the Terminator is laying in wait for them. Once the car makes noise, Arnold opens fire with his pump shotgun, but Reese gets the car moving. They drive along parallel tracks each firing off shotgun rounds at each other. It's a neat visual. This short chase then hits the street where they continue to fire. Eventually, a wreck ends the chase and the police arrive and arrest Sarah and Kyle - the Terminator slips away to do those amazing makeup and animatronic sequences for us. This is a short little blast of a chase - but nothing to standout or crazy.

10. “Tech-Noir Shootout and Chase” -The Terminator (1984)
- Commentary: This sequence is a great example of the differences between the serial killer/stalker atmosphere and mood of the original Terminator entry vs the more influential big budget action spectacle that the sequel would make the franchise known for. Sarah Connor has realized she is being stalked and that other Sarah Connors have been killed earlier in the day. She winds up in a club called Tech-Noir and is told by the police on the phone to wait in that public place for them. When Arnold shows up as the Terminator to kill her, Kyle Reese steps in with his pump shotgun. A shootout occurs, but it's short and big on the drama of what it means to hit someone with 4-5 shotgun blasts and they still get up. The lighting, score, and style here do a great job of keeping this sequence grounded in the horror of fighting something that can withstand the worst you have to give it. Kyle and Sarah get to a car with the Terminator not far behind. Arnold jumps on the car and busts his hand through the windshield, but Kyle is ultimately able to shake him off and make off fast into the L.A. night with cops on his tail. A chilly sequence that really sets the grounded sci-fi tone for the rest of the film's conflict.

GRADE: B
9. “Skynet HQ: T101 vs. TX & Connor/Kate Escape” -Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)
- Commentary: In the middle of this nice little escape sequence that sees John Connor and Kate trying to escape Skynet HQ to a hardened facility comes a nice slobberknocker fight between Arnold’s T101 and the TX. Lots of physical damage, some stunts, and CG work here. The story of the fight is clear as well, as much as T101 wants to use brute force, the TX can take it and adapt. The sequence ends here with the TX being magnetized to a particle accelerator and having all the liquid metal stripped until she stops it with a saw. It’s a clever idea to demobilize a Terminator and I kinda wish they saved it for the end. I don’t quite like the ending with the TX corrupted Arnold trying to kill John. It’s campy and doesn’t quite make much sense.

GRADE: B+
8. “Finale: Truck Chases, Explosions, & Mechanical Presses” -The Terminator (1984)
- Commentary: The first action finale in the franchise set the basic template followed by many of the sequels: beginning with a vehicle chase sequence which ends in some kind of explosion that looks like the Terminator could never survive - except He does (!) - and the second phase kicks in which is a foot chase that ends with some industrial style equipment finally being used to kill the Terminator. This first phase kicks off with the Terminator arriving at Sarah and Kyle's hotel room, but do to some well placed dog barks, they are able to escape in a truck - the Terminator follows behind on a motorcycle firing an automatic weapons. This chase goes through a tunnel where Kyle lights bombs and tosses them unsuccessfully at Arnold. Coming out of the tunnel, a bullet strikes Kyle and both parties crash. A semi-truck then runs over Arnold, who is barely phased. He takes over the truck and tries to use it to strike Sarah and Kyle in their turned over truck. They get free but Arnold chases after Sarah. Kyle is able to place a bomb in the truck and we get an awesome explosion and our heroes breathe a sigh of relief. The fire peels off the Terminator's skin and we now get a mixture of Ray Harryhausen style stop motion effects and a animatronic for the Terminator. This phase feels like a different movie - it's back to serial killer/stalker mode and the chase is on. Sarah and Kyle end up in a manufacturing plant. Kyle is able to use his last explosive to cut the Terminator in half, but an injured Sarah is now being chased by the still active torso of the Terminator. Hard not to hear Kyle's "He'll never stop!" during this part. Eventually they climb through a mechanical press and Sarah is able to compress the Terminator. There's a lot to like here - but I'd be lying if I didn't think the parts of this sequence were better than the whole together.

7. “Car Factory Fight to Highway Havoc” -Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)
- Commentary: This is a great action set piece in the first act of the most recent Terminator feature. It begins on the floor of a car factory where the most recent Terminator, the Rev-9, is seeking out Danielle Reyes. Right before she is shot dead, an augmented human from the future, Grace, shoots it down. This leads to a strong fight between them using a sledgehammer and other heavy tools found around the factory. It’s interesting that the hand to hand weapon fighting has advanced to more of a combat / martial arts style than ever before. It’s a nice little back and forth here between superhumans. The scene escalates with a highway chase where the Rev-9 has a dump truck chasing our heroes. Lots of destruction (which is always a plus) and some cool maneuvering are the feature here until Grace gets into the bed of the truck and begins throwing metal poles at the Rev-9. It all ends with the arrival of Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor to save the day. Good stuff and the best sequence in a pretty good Terminator film.

6. “Escape from the Mental Ward & the T-1000” -Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
- Commentary: This film just oozes tension and atmosphere. The memorable silver/light blue look and feel to this movie is evident in no scene better than this escape from the mental ward. It gives everything a memorable look and sheen - as if the action wasn't memorable enough. After securing John Connor, the race is on to get Sarah in the mental ward. The T-1000 gets there first, turning into guards, and getting past security. Sarah, all the while, is trying to pick her lock and get free herself - knowing the Terminators have returned. Much love has to go out to Linda Hamilton here who totally transformed herself into a strong force of a woman. She is completely believable as a character who has to hit a lot of different tones. She takes out a guard and then locks the admins into a command cage. She is almost out when she runs into T-101 and her son. A rematch between the terminators ensues and we get a nice moment where T-1000 morphs through metal bars and terrorizes our heroes in an elevator - a moment that feels like its out of a horror film. The heroes escape in a police car, driving backwards and taking shots at the T-1000 chasing them. Eventually, the T-1000 gets close enough to turn his hands into hooks and grab on to the car. Those hooks are eventually blown off by shotgun blasts. This is a pretty straightforward and simple sequence, but Cameron just executes everything so well.  

5. “Finale: From the Skies to the Damn” -Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)
- Commentary: An underrated action finale in an underrated Terminator film. Like the film it resides in, it’s a bit overstuffed and ultimately iterative, but it’s well-made and hard hitting. The sequence starts with the heroes on a C-5 airplane that is crashed into by the Rev-9 in another large aircraft. The crash sequence features a strong fight and back and forth. The heroes parachute out in a Humvee and crash land at a damn. This phase is the drama of going over the side and fighting off the Rev-9 underwater at the base of the damn. The final phase is a group fight in the damn’s hydroelectric generator buildings. It’s a bit repetitive and I think would have hit harder if there were less overall encounters in the film – but this is fantastic looking stuff here. Great visual effects and team work to make the logic of the fights make sense. I especially enjoy the grief-ridden new leaf Arnold here making a sacrifice “for John”. It’s strong action, a little over the top, and it doesn’t quite know when to end, but don’t sleep on this sequence.

GRADE: A-
4. “Desert Chase: Machines Chase Humans to the Bridge” -Terminator Salvation (2009)
- Commentary: If I were to just show you this sequence, alone and out of context, it would be difficult to believe you wouldn’t get excited about the rest of the movie. This sequence is a perfect introduction to the “Road Warrior” aesthetic and is one of those where it keeps amping up, showing you more and more of the capabilities of the enemy. It begins with a surprise as a large robotic machine that looks like a Sentinel from the X-Men cartoon universe breaks into a group and captures people to imprison them. It then shoots down fleeing cars until our heroes stagger it with a giant gas explosion (that looks great on film). The heroes get away in a construction truck but are chased by little motorcycle terminators that come off the legs of the larger sentinel. Details like this give the viewer hope that the creatives have genuinely thought through the world, the lore, and more. We get a fun chase scene where the heroes strategically take out each moto-terminator Mad Max style. The scene then gets to a bridge where a large hovercraft/drone is waiting for them, but is taken out. It escalates as an even larger troop ship arrives, one that is shown to house that original sentinel. Resistance A-10 planes show up and a short aerial battle ensues. The escalation isn’t just great action, but continues to show the enemy as capable and even worse than initially conceived. As an early action set piece, it’s great stuff and very rewatchable. It’s just too bad the rest of the movie never lives up to that promise.

3. "From the Mall to the Aqueduct: Terminator's First Face/Off" -Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
- Commentary: This iconic sequence begins with a slow atmospheric build. The two Terminators have been searching around L.A. for the teen boy John Connor. The T-101 Terminator, played perfectly by Arnold Schwarzenegger, is out there to protect and guard Connor. The new villain of the franchise, the T-100 Terminator played perfectly by Robert Patrick, is out to kill Connor. John, all the while, is out scamming ATMs and playing video games at the local mall. As the terminators close in the atmosphere builds. John gets wind a cop, the T-1000, is looking for him and he scrams through back passages in the mall where just a perfect sequence happens. John comes face to face with Arnold as the T-101 bringing flashbacks of the first Terminator movie when he was the bad guy. He turns around but the cop is coming towards him. Arnold yells "get down!" as he pulls a shotgun from his rose box and takes a couple of blasts at the T-1000. This is where we see this new terminator has some special skills - he is made of liquid metal that can re-align, shapeshift, and return to form. The T-1000 fires back, but Arnold steps in front of Connor taking the shots. They get into some hand to hand and the T-1000 shoves the much bigger Arnold around. James Cameron does a great job in just under a minute introducing the strengths, weaknesses, and stakes between these three characters through some basic action. Connor gets out of there and onto his dirt bike. A major chase then begins. The T-1000 starts with his iconic run, but John is getting away, so he takes over a large semi truck - just going through and destroying any car that gets in his way. Arnold follows behind on his Fat Boy Harley Davidson. Connor pauses in the LA aqueduct thinking he lost them, but the Semi comes barreling off a bridge and down to the concrete below. Following along a side road above, Arnold takes aim with his shotgun. He eventually makes it down below as well (in an awesome stunt), gets around the semi, and picks the boy up. He shoots out the tires and the semi crashes into a bridge and explodes. Whew - great stuff here. On paper this is a pretty contained sequence that could have easily been a 'B', but Cameron's execution makes it an iconic chase where each decision and shot has become so well remembered and loved. With all of that said, it's still not the best chase sequence in the franchise.

GRADE: A
2. “City Emergency Chase: T101 & TX Chase Connor” -Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) 
- Commentary: Even if the rest of the third Terminator film isn’t anything special, this gem of a car chase sequence is definitely worth the price of admission. John Connor is in a truck trying to get away from the TX Terminator, but the catch is that the TX can control other machines. The first phase of the car sequence has the TX controlling several police cars who try to box in and take out Connor’s truck. It’s a cool sequence that, in a major feature for this chase, looks done all practically. The next phase of the chase is where it gets even better though. Arnold’s T101 shows up in an ambulance to take on the TX who is driving a large construction truck with a crane arm. Back and forth they joust and cause immense amounts of real damage, hitting real buildings, flipping real cars. It’s so refreshing in a contemporary world where car chases are largely CGI spectacles. The sequence ends when a wench from the construction truck is dropped down a sewer hole and causes TX’s truck to do a major flip (this one is CG though) that would be topped practically in The Dark Knight with a real semi-flip. If you get excited for real cars jousting back and forth at high speeds causing immense amounts of damage – this sequence is for you.

GRADE: A+
1. “Finale: Destroying Cyberdyne to Steel Mill Fight with T-1000” -Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) 
- Commentary: A finale for the ages. It covers the entire third act of the film and takes place in three distinct phases. It begins when Sarah, John, the T101, and Miles Dyson break into Cyberdyne to destroy his work and save the human race. A silent alarm gets tripped and the police begin to surround the building. A showdown is inevitable and this is the first major phase – the shootout. Arnold kicks it off by pushing a desk through the second story window and then strafing the cops with a mini-gun followed by taking out cop cares with a grenade launcher. It’s an awesome sight with lots of destruction and the comedic payoff of zero casualties. The police respond with a SWAT team infiltration and a shootout occurs in the Cyberdyne offices – taking down Miles Dyson and causing a huge explosion in the process (reminded me a lot of the great explosion in Die Hard) – with a great wide shot of it and a helicopter as well. The heroes make it to the lobby where tear gas is used, but T-101 takes out the SWAT team with crippling shots to the knees and then using the tear gas gun for the rest outside. He gets a SWAT truck, drives it into the building, and gets the Connors out. A highway chase then occurs between the heroes in the SWAT truck and the T-1000 in a helicopter.
This is the second phase of the finale and it’s an amazing “car chase” sequence in its own right. I love the shots of T-1000 flying with multiple arms and shooting an assault rifle with additional ones. Eventually T-101 slams the breaks causing the helicopter to slam into the back of the SWAT truck. T-1000 gets a semi-truck hauling liquid nitrogen and the heroes get into a smaller truck. They get rammed several times and Arnold decides to shoot grenades at it, but it doesn’t work so he jumps up onto the semi’s hood and fire an assault weapon directly at T-1000. It’s an awesome stunt shot wide for clarity. I LOVE IT. It causes the semi to flip crash and bust all the liquid nitrogen open. We get an amazing visual effect of the T-1000 freezing and breaking. 
What luck that he landed in a steel mill, because the high temperatures heat him back up and we enter the third phase of this sequence, the “killer hunt” in the steel mill. This one plays out more like the first Terminator film with the T-1000 slowly stalking the heroes who are hobbled and scared. I love how after the liquid nitrogen sequence we keep getting shots of the T-1000 as kind of dysfunctional and shapeshifting when he doesn’t want to. Eventually the two terminators face off one on one and it’s not much a fight. They go back and forth, but T-1000 is stronger and Arnold’s left arm gets crushed in a gear and he is trapped and forced to amputate it. They fight again later and Arnold is crushed by an I-beam and stabbed with a steel pole. We hit the end phase when the T-1000 impersonates Sarah to draw John out. Thankfully, those morphing dysfunctions give him away, but Sarah uses repeated shotgun blasts to knock him back, needing just ONE MORE to put him into the steel furnace. At the last second, Arnold arrives and fires a grenade into him, exploding him apart and dropping him into the steel furnace where he dies morphing into his many forms from the film. It’s a classic finale and death sequence for an all-time great action sequence that tries to do it all. Bravo James Cameron and everyone who worked on it.

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