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“ Yes, another model of Schwarzenegger's T-800 has been sent back from the future to protect John Connor (Nick Stahl), now a pill-popping junkie. ”

Boston Globe reviews T3

Boston Globe on fast paced Terminator 3

Sun 6 Jul 2003 | 00h06 GMT+1

"Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" tells the simple yet compelling story of a very old piece of equipment that refuses to go away. Its name is Arnold Schwarzenegger, and, as famously promised, he's back, and at his anticharismatic best, too.

In "T3," Schwarzenegger, who'll be 56 later this month, looks as good topless as any Abercrombie & Fitch male-bait. He returns to show us that a myth-laden summer-movie event needn't be anchored by myth at all. (Are you listening, "Matrix"?) It can be as monosyllabic as its star so long as it moves as fast as a cable-modem connection, which this movie does quite well. "T3" doesn't have action sequences per se; it has full-blown demolition derbies.

"T3" was directed by the fine B-movie craftsman Jonathan Mostow, who made 1997's nasty Kurt Russell noir "Breakdown" and "U-571,' the intense submarine thriller from 2000 that put a bunch of C-list actors on a submarine and let them out-sweat one another for two hours. For "T3," Mostow has brought the apocalyptic tension of '50s Cold War schlock to bear on his super-expensive Schwarzenegger comeback vehicle.

Yes, another model of Schwarzenegger's T-800 has been sent back from the future to protect John Connor (Nick Stahl), now a pill-popping junkie, who's so despondent and strung-out looking he could be the lead singer from any now-defunct grunge band. John's even more bummed to find out that his attempt to stop judgment day in 1991's "T2" has failed. (In the previous episode, Edward Furlong played John and Linda Hamilton his intrepid mother. She's not here.)

The T-800 also has Kate Brewster (Claire Danes) to look after. Brewster is a veterinarian who needs protection for reasons she never really finds easy to believe. For Pete's sake, when we meet her, she and her fiance (Mark Famiglietti) are registering soup tureens at Bloomingdale's. Later, she's running for her life with John, with whom she remembers once making out in junior high, and a leather-clad Austrian giant.

Chasing them is a T-X (former model Kristanna Loken), which has been programmed to kill John and Kate, thus stopping them from saving mankind and letting earth perish in a machine-waged nuclear holocaust. The T-X is a more sophisticated model than the T-800. For one thing, it's a lady. For another, she's younger, seems hatched from some Nordic pod, prefers red leather to the T-800's basic black, and has no qualms about wiping out women and teenage boys at close range. Basically, she's as relentless, indestructible, and unsympathetic as your personal trainer.

When James Cameron and Gale Anne Hurd came up with "The Terminator" 19 years ago, who knew that their horror tale of a cyborg sent back in time to kill the mother of the future leader of the anti-machine revolution would have legs in each subsequent decade?

This third installment is the loudest, dopiest, and least inventive of the three. But what the movie (and its script by John D. Brancato and Michael Ferris) lacks in intelligence it makes up for in sheer doom. Its opening shot is of a white light plunging into an aerial view of a city. The parting sequence portends far worse. Like Armageddon in these movies, another installment is always coming.

The nuclear paranoia in "T3" wears a straight face, though, despite the amusing nonsense that's used to pad it. That's courtesy of Schwarzenegger. At one point, he's caught telling a convenience store clerk to 'talk to the hand.' At another, he fires a big gun while hauling a coffin on one shoulder. Our last action hero, even in jest, makes a kitschy undertaker.

Regardless, this is the franchise that could give Schwarzenegger's rumored California gubernatorial bid the intimidation factor his competition would lack. "Gray Davis" just doesn't say "Terminator" to me.

By Wesley Morris
Boston Globe

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