Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) – Jonathan Mostow

I’ve covered all the Terminator films on this blog, except for two, so now, thanks to the Sci-Fi Chronicles book I will be checking them out to complete my interactions with the T-101 and the many incarnations of John Connor.

I remember being of a split mind on this film when I first saw it. I liked the cast, though not all of the moments and characters were as suited to the universe as they should be, and liked a lot of the action beats, but they felt smaller than those we saw in Judgement Day, which could be called one of the best action movies of all time.

Storywise, this story caused a lot of dissension in the Terminator universe, so much so that the television series that sprang up after it, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, completely voided the events of the film.

Jonathan Mostow, who previous to this had directed the enjoyable, but historically inaccurate U-571 took over the director’s chair from James Cameron. And that had to be daunting. No matter what he did, it was going to be compared to Cameron’s work, so I don’t think there was anyway he could win.

The story follows John Connor (Nick Stahl), now a drifter, who has seen the date for Judgement Day come and go, but when he gets thrown into the life of Kate Brewster (Claire Danes) he barely has a moment catch his breath before a T-101 (once again played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) travels from the future to keep him alive.


It seems the rise of Skynet, the super computer that declares war on humankind is still going to happen, and it is today. To insure that nothing can stop it, a T-X (Kristanna Loken) is sent back to eliminate Connor, and by extension Brewster, once and for all.

The T-101 has to keep them safe, and insure they survive the seemingly inevitable nuclear holocaust that is about to happen.

It’s not a terrible film, and is for the most part, a fairly entertaining action film, but anything that followed in the footsteps of T2 was going to be a bit of a letdown; nothing could be that epic or action-packed.

Stahl’s interpretation of Connor isn’t as strong as it could be. But that may have been a decision created in the script and by the director as opposed to his portrayal. Danes isn’t given much to do aside from scream, run, and occasionally shoot a gun, a fine actress in a but of a wasted role.

The viewing public must have agreed because the film did okay business but did not do the gangbusters of T2.

And yet, instead of learning from this experiment, and perhaps reaching out to Cameron and his creative team, they went ahead with two more sequels…

TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES, Kristanna Loken, Arnold Schwarzenegger, 2003, (c) Warner Brother




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