Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)

reviewed by
David N. Butterworth

TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES A film review by David N. Butterworth Copyright 2003 David N. Butterworth

*** (out of ****)

If you'd asked me to pick someone to direct the third installment of the "Terminator" series after James Cameron bailed I might well have said Jonathan Mostow. His "Breakdown" was an intelligent, sprightly thriller from 1997 and "U 571" proved itself admirably in the action department. Mostow's filmography isn't extensive by any means but on the combined strength of those two pictures alone you have a filmmaker with the necessary skills and versatility to craft a venerable "T3." That said there are times in "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines," many times in fact, that you don't miss Cameron for a minute (and for a while there I was actually convinced it was the best "Terminator" to date it's that good). But even though the film, ultimately, lacks the immediacy of the first and the humanity of the second it's nevertheless a spectacular addition to--and surprisingly solid entry in--the franchise that makes you chuckle as often as it makes your palms sweat (during its several chase scenes). John Connor has evolved into the gaunt, scared-looking figure of Nick Stahl ("In the Bedroom") and in the film's opening voiceover we learn that he's on the lam, living "off the grid" while trying to avoid his ultimate fate (as leader of the resistance against the machines) as well as those who would do him harm. Cue T-X (aka "Terminatrix"), a sexy updated cyborg/killing machine fashioned on, it would appear from her explosive introduction in a Beverly Hills boutique, Beyoncé Knowles! T-X is realized by supermodel Kristanna Loken with convincing animatronic intensity--keen stares and subtle flips of the head while her CPU locks on its target. Arnold Schwarzenegger reprises his famous role as John Connor's protector, the leather clad, Rayban-wearing T-800 and Claire Danes ("The Mod Squad") is also along for the ride as Kate Brewster, John first basement kiss and future ally. Schwarzenegger, pumped up and not afraid to poke fun at his character, is turning 56 and one wonders how much longer he can play the buff synthetic organism (with the witty one-liners) from the future. But on the strength of "T3" I reckon producers Mario Kasser and Gale Anne Hurd can squeeze at least one more "Terminator" out of him. And, with any luck, one more out of Mostow too.

David N. Butterworth

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