Few actors in the lifetime of their careers have defining roles that make them eternal to an audience of film admirers. Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of those actors. His portrayal of a robot assassin sent from the future to kill the mother of the leader of the Resistance is a benchmark for all future actors who have culled an impressive portfolio to best James Cameron‘s creation.
In the early Eighties, The Terminator became a box office sensation. Word has it when Schwarzenegger auditioned for the role, he actually auditioned for the Kyle Reese role instead, but Cameron saw differently. One look at Schwarzenegger, and he found his killing machine for the movie of the same name.
For those unfamiliar with the story, a quick spoiler-free recap is in order.
Soldier Kyle Reese, travels to the present to save the mother of the future leader of the Resistance. In his bid to keep her from harm, he leads her through a series of escapes to foil the murderous plans of an evil machine called the Terminator. In the future, the machines rule the earth hunting humans to take over the planet.
Terminator 2: Judgement Day has a similar story but this time there are two terminators to worry about. The target this time is the child who will become the future leader of the Resistance.
The Terminator is an interesting character in that it represents the relentless drive to achieve a goal at all costs regardless of the damage that happens surrounding the achievement of that goal. Much of the Terminator’s drive comes from its neural net processor, which has the capability to follow direct programming by other machines to eliminate humans from the face of the earth, and learn as it goes along
A major aspect of the character’s inclination to follow orders pertains to nothing more than bits and bytes in a CPU. However, in the progression of the series, the audience comes to learn that the terminator machine can take on a life of its own, and in several instances, become human in an inhuman world.
Of course, if one were to attempt to stop a terminator, the target would need more than a truck to take it out of commission. The target would need a special strategy to relieve it of its mission. Neither fire nor ice can destroy the cold heart of this killing machine. A sledgehammer might do the trick, but there are no guarantees.
Terminator’s focus is steadfast and does not waver from its mission, which makes the robot one of the most terrifying characters in science fiction history. 2001: Space Odyssey‘s HAL 9000 exudes as a malignant robot gone astray, using deception as its key tool to fight humans. With a terminator, there’s nothing deceptive about its goal. It plunges into the present, hunts its targets, and makes a spectacle out of it.
Having said that, as mentioned, the Terminator’s capacity to learn is its redeeming quality that may absolve it of its terrible role it possesses. That is to say, if it learns for good. If anything, this quality can lead it to become a father to a lost son.
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Have you seen any of the Terminator movies? What did you think of them?