The Terminator is a sci-fi action movie taking place in 1984 and 2029 Los Angeles. The stars include Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator, Michael Biehn as Kyle Reese, Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor, and Paul Winfield as Lt. Traxler. The music score is composed by Brad Fiedel (True Lies). The producer is Gale Anne Hurd (Aliens). The film is directed by James Cameron (The Abyss).
The story is centered around a young woman named Sarah Connor who will give birth to a son who will lead resistance fighters against the ruling machines. Because the humans had all but defeated the Skynet defense network, a cybernetic organism is sent back to 1984 to kill the mother of the resistance leader John Connor, thus wiping out his entire existence. But a soldier under the direct command of Connor is also sent back to protect Sarah Connor from the Terminator. Sarah is at a pizza parlor when she hears that two other women named Sarah Connor had been murdered earlier in the day. She realizes she may be next so she tries to call the police but the phone at the parlor is out of order. As a result, she must go down the street to a rock bar and use its phone. As she is waiting for the police there, the Terminator shows up and immediately recognizes her. It is about to shoot her in the head when Kyle Reese, the soldier from the future, shoots at the Terminator, temporarily stopping it. But the machine gets up and tries to kill Reese while Sarah Connor and the other customers attempt to flee the bar. The Terminator sees this and fires at a woman right behind Sarah, killing her and taking Sarah to the floor. It approaches her and reloads its gun but before the cyborg can get a shot off, Reese fires again, forcing it to fall through the front window. To Sarah’s astonishment, the Terminator once again gets to its feet. She and Reese escape through the back door. Reese creates an explosion hoping to hinder the machine, but it emerges from the fire onto their windshield. The Terminator punches through it and grabs Sarah while Reese tries to loosen its grip. They all come out of the alley with the Terminator falling off the windshield. A cop nearby witnesses this and calls for help. The machine takes out the cop and steals his car. Reese and Sarah find a parking ramp to hide and find a different car. As they are doing this, he explains to her what is going on. The Terminator tracks them down in the ramp and chases them. It ends when the Terminator crashes into a concrete wall as the police arrive. The cyborg manages to elude the police before they surround its car. They arrest Reese, believing him to be the killer of the other Sarah Connors, and take Sarah to the police station. But the cyborg once again finds her there and rams the entrance just before shooting everyone who gets in its way. Kyle Reese is able to get free and save Sarah from the Terminator. The two flee the city and spend the night under a bridge. The next morning they find a motel room. While Reese is out getting supplies to make weapons, Sarah calls her mother and tells her the phone number of the motel. Little does she know that it isn’t her mother speaking to her, but it is the Terminator imitating her voice. Reese soon returns and they both make weapons. Later on, Reese confesses his love for Sarah and they make love. Yet, unbeknownst to them, the Terminator is on its way.
One thing that is interesting is who James Cameron decided to cast as the emotionless Terminator. At first, he wanted Lance Henriksen to be the machine and have Arnold Schwarzenegger play Kyle Reese. So the Terminator needed to be a bigger man, and the studio suggested O.J. Simpson but Cameron didn’t think he would be believable as a killer (he later became one in real life, but that’s another story). But Arnold said he wanted to be the villain so he was cast as the Terminator while Henriksen appears in the movie as a detective and Michael Biehn as Kyle Reese. Lance Henriksen would later on play a cyborg in another Cameron film called Aliens, which also stars Michael Biehn.
Another feature that is fascinating is the distinction of Kyle Reese as the hero and the Terminator the villain. In the beginning of the movie, the viewer can obviously tell that the Terminator is bad because one of his first kills involves ripping a man’s heart from his chest. Kyle Reese, at first, doesn’t seem to be a good guy either because he steals a cop’s gun and holds him at gunpoint demanding to know what year it is. But he doesn’t kill the cop, which indicates that he is not all bad. He also steals a car and appears to stalk Sarah before the encounter at the rock bar. In fact, initially Sarah is intimidated by him and thinks he’s the killer of the other Sarah Connors until Reese saves her life.
To wrap, The Terminator is a great movie for all the action junkies out there and is widely considered to be a sci-fi classic.