By Sherrie Li
By Falling James
By Amanda Lewis
By Amy Nicholson
By Amy Nicholson
By Jennifer Swann
By Scott Foundas
By Sherrie Li
Why, you might ask, is all this happening, after Connor (with help from Linda Hamilton and that other T-101) evidently destroyed every shred of scientist Joe Morton’s research more than a decade ago, the very research that, left unchecked, would have been used to develop the Skynet computer software that would, in turn, develop a HAL 9000–like instinct for self-preservation and eliminate all those (namely, humans) who stood in its way? Let’s just say that Brancato and Ferris do pull an explanation out of their hat, and that it’s not the most compelling trick in their considerable repertoire. (Whereas Cameron, in T2, saw that every last unanswered question from the first movie had been satisfactorily nailed down.)
Only a true grinch, though, is likely to grouse about an infidelity to narrative logic which allows for a movie that affords so much pleasure. Which is to assume that said grinch will have enough time to chop such logic in the thick of T3’s mania. Which isn’t at all likely. Thirty minutes or less into T3, just for starters, comes the car chase to end all car chases, an elaboration on the motorcycle-versus-18-wheeler pursuit at the start of T2, but with the big-rig here replaced by an even wider load — a 100-ton crane, driven by the T-X, that upturns other vehicles like matchbox cars and reduces entire buildings to rubble in one fell swoop. Just when you think things are slowing down, they’re really kicking into high gear: The chase goes on and on (and on some more), dazzling us with its explosive real-time mayhem, its orgiastic stunt work and its sparing use of computer effects. What’s more: Mostow keeps up that feverish pitch not only for the chase scene, but for just about everything that follows, up to and including a dynamite bathroom brawl between the two terminators. Rather than relying upon the slo-mo, Hong Kong–style fight choreography that has become so de rigueur (and so unconscionably bastardized) in the wake of The Matrix, Mostow allows his actors to smash together and spring apart with Looney Tunes ferocity. The energy’s right there in the camera, and thus doesn’t have to be manufactured later in the editing room.
Imagine: an action movie where the action is so carefully storyboarded and blocked out, we can actually follow it! It’s the same sensibility Mostow brought to his first theatrical feature, 1997’s Breakdown, the crazed jolt after welcome jolt that comes from a filmmaker pouring his heart and soul and every good idea he’s ever had into a movie. It’s also where the filmmaker shows his true kinship with Cameron: While they draw from considerably different aesthetic palates (Mostow has brought a new cameraman, composer and team of editors to the project), they’re born of the same irrepressible, vaudevillian desire to give us more than we bargained for, to put on a better-than-good, showstopping show. And that’s just what Mostow’s done: He’s made the summer movie audiences have been waiting for, come to save us, like our own personal T-101, from one more regrettable night out at the multiplex.
TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES| Directed by JONATHAN MOSTOW | Written by JOHN BRANCATO and MICHAEL FERRIS, story by Brancato, Ferris and Tedi Sarafian Produced by MARIO F. KASSAR, HAL LIEBERMAN, JOEL B. MICHAELS, ANDREW G. VAJNA and COLIN WILSON | Released by Warner Bros. | Citywide
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