I'm probably going to lose instant credibility by saying this, but I think that T3 is the best in the series. Yes, T2 and the original are brilliant but T3 is simply all action from start to finish. It's a breathless, relentless thrill-ride that doesn't let up until the shocking, refreshingly downbeat climax.

Nick Stahl easily steps into the role of John Connor, vacated by Edward Furlong and surpasses him in terms of acting and character development. T3 takes place over a couple of days but the actors still get enough out of the sudden, fast-paced plot developments to prevent them from simply being furniture. I was surprised at how emotional and engaging Nick Stahl's performance was as I had previously thought he was totally inappropriate for the part.

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T3 has Connor as some sort of Ronin type character, living separate from the rest of humanity, paranoid that Skynet may be able to track his footsteps in the future and send a Terminator to kill him. He knows he destroyed Cyberdyne and everything SHOULD be okay, but something else just stops him from keeping in touch with the world. Plus Sarah Connor is dead, leaving a John alone in an unstable time.

Computer networks are failing across the planet and there seems to be a giant ghost in the machine. Everyone seems oblivious to the brewing trouble until the T-X (a very, very sexy Kristanna Loken) and the T-800 step out of the time displacement field, hell-bent on blowing each other and the city to smithereens.

Amazing special effects, stunt work and CGI make up the rest of the movie, which is essentially one huge chase. I found it to be pretty seamless when I first saw it but upon repeat viewings you can tell what's fake and what's not. But only if you look really hard. T3 uses its effects to make a good movie, not just a pretentious trailer. Something that so many shallow effects movies do.

Of course there are problems. As always in a film with such a white-knuckle momentum, plot coherence is sacrificed for timing. Why are Kate Brewster and her boyfriend shopping in the middle of the night? How on earth would Connor's Lieutenant’s have survived Judgment Day when they clearly live in the middle of LA and would have been fried to a crisp? There are also some continuity problems with the first 2 movies not the least of which are the wildly incorrect character ages. But even James Cameron himself didn't define this too clearly in T2. And why is Arnie's Terminator model now called a T-101? He's a T-800: Cyberdyne Systems Model 101. A couple of quick exposition scenes could have made all this nice and neat. But they couldn't be bothered I guess. This is probably why so many fans of Cameron's entries turned their noses up that T3.

Jonathan Mostow’s under-confident direction prevents the film from becoming excessive and farcical. Yes, T3 is a bit more ‘popcorn’ than the first two movies but it’s not enough to distract from the fact that it’s a bit more clever and intelligent than people say. If T3 were to overload on subtext and moody narration like T2 did, we’d be moaning that they’re just recycling the script. T3 instead waivers as much of the bulky story as possible and cuts to the chase, explaining the new, catastrophic situation on the way. Much of this is helped along with the introduction of Claire Dane’s character, who gives the audience an outsiders perspective of the dark future.

I find it unlikely that there will ever be a Terminator 4. Arnie is too busy to commit himself to a time-consuming project like that and it just wouldn't be a Terminator movie without him. Despite being 55 in this he still looks pretty good for an obsolete model. If only the same could be said for Steven Seagal eh?

Reviewed on: 26 Feb 2007
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Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines packshot
Third installment in the Terminator franchise has robot Arnie fighting a metallic woman.
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Read more Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines reviews:

Tony Sullivan ****
Angus Wolfe Murray ***
Jennie Kermode ***
Stephen Carty ***
Scott Macdonald **

Director: Jonathan Mostow

Writer: John Brancato, Michael Ferris

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nick Stahl, Claire Danes, Kristanna Loken, David Andrews, Mark Famiglietti, Earl Boen, Moira Harris, Chopper Bernet, Christopher Lawford, Carolyn Hennesy

Year: 2003

Runtime: 109 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


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