John Connor (Nick Stahl), the future saviour of mankind and survivor of several Terminator attacks, leads a troubled scavenger existence hiding from the world he believes he has saved from nuclear armageddon.

Alas, all is not as safe as it seemed, as the relentless machine world of the future send back a new Terminator, this time with a shopping list of victims which will ensure that Connor's future army will not be victorious. The new Terminator (Kristanna Loken) focuses on vetenarian Kate Brewster (Claire Danes) who just happens to be an old flame of Connor's and whose father just happens to run the central computer system for the US military.

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Our new baddie Terminator unleashes the mother of all computer viruses into the internet and it is soon threatening the military computers. General Robert Brewster (David Andrews) has the solution though, kicking in Skynet - an Artificial Intelligence computer program that will make the human operators redundant and eliminate the virus. But wait a minute, the Terminators are/were/will be (?!) sent by Skynet...This General guy has obviously never seen The Forbin Project or Wargames?

Directed by U-571's Jonathan Mostow and with James Cameron nowhere in evidence, the only obvious carry overs from the earlier epics are Arnie returning as John Connor's watchdog, and make-up man Stan Winston.

Frankly, the omens didn't look good, with Arnie coming off several luke warm movies in need of a hit, Mostow the director of the adequate U-571 and a premise that Cameron has done to death in the earlier movies...

So I'm pleased to report this is a very satisfying return to the world of the machines. The emphasis is on the action and the opening chase effortlessly eclipses the chase on display in Matrix: Reloaded.

It makes a refreshing change to see an action movie eschew the wire-fu, slo-mo fancy-angle fight scenes in favour of a wham bam and, dare I say, old-fashioned punch up. The gimmick of the female terminator is not really exploited and the computer-generated effects which were the show piece of T-2 are not particularly dwelt on, and this is all to the good.

It is faintly disturbing to see Arnie bashing around a female even if she does promptly tur around and returns the favour. I'm surprised some of the fisticuffs have not fallen foul of the censor's scissors in the UK, especially for a 12A certificate. You have been warned.

The acting is serviceable and with the leads required to do little but flee, they aren't really as engaging as Linda Hamilton's Sarah Connor in the earlier movies. Arnie, looking not a day older than he did in 1991, gets to stomp around, fall apart and offer choice sound bites as per usual.

The film happily sends itself up and there are some very funny moments without the whole thing turning into "Carry On Terminating". Despite some suspect dialogue and contrivances, the film remains on the better side of the credibility line and the whole thing arrives at a surprisingly satisfying conclusion.

I'll be back for number#4.

Reviewed on: 15 Dec 2006
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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:

Gator MacReady ****
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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