Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Terminator (1984)

Director: James Cameron
Writers:  Gale Anne Hurd, James Cameron
Cast:      Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn

A human-looking indestructible cyborg is sent from 2029 to 1984 to assassinate a waitress Sarah Connor, whose unborn son will lead humanity in a war against the machines, while a soldier from that war is sent to protect her at all costs. The situation in 2029 arose after the machines decided to wipe out mankind so that they may not destroy everything in the future and the way they went about it was by launching a nuclear war. 

I have seen Terminator 2 like when I was in school and don't remember much about it apart from the famous chase sequence and the last thumbs up shot of the film. Those who know their onions often claim that the first film in the Terminator franchise is the best out of the lot. It is understandable because the first one often have the best story as the audience don't know anything about the universe the film is set in and the director can reveal little by little throughout the film without it feeling like a sequence of action sequences just for the sake of it. This is indeed how 'The Terminator' turned out to be, a great action film with an interesting story line. It is a very enjoyable watch even though the whole idea about the film is from a very basic story about Man Vs Machine & Time Travel. Like all time travel films, it also features Bootstrap Paradox. Paradox here is that it is the soldier from future who impregnates Sarah Connor leading to the birth of John Connor who goes on to become the leader of men in their fight against machines. John had used information given to him by his mother to send the soldier back in time, while Sarah got the information in the first place from the soldier himself. So the information is circular without an origin but it is done in an interesting way since the time travelling soldier doesn't know that there is an extra motive for John to send him back in time. He could have seen John being named as a Connor, after his mother, as a possible clue. People often cite Bootstrap Paradox to chide time travelling films when in fact they are a recurring feature in almost all such films and it is what make them interesting. Same was used to criticize Interstellar when in fact that film had so many other problems that you could beat it with. Presdestination is an excellent film from last year which celebrated the paradox in such a way that I still can't get my head round all the paradoxes. 

Overall it is great watch with some solid chase action sequences. The time travel aspect of the film and the paradox must have been novel when it came out in 1984, much before the 'Back To The Future' franchise. Towards the end you do get a feeling that Terminator is just a turd that refuses to be flushed down and we can totally relate to Sarah's words: 'You're terminated, fucker!'. They could have very well ended the film with that tanker explosion scene. Arnold's Terminator character is listed in AFI's lists of 100 best Heroes and Villains in both categories with the only other one such character being Al Pacino's Michael Corleone. Looking forward to watching Judgement Day again. Hast la vista, baby!

Rating: 4/5