For me, Terminator 2: Judgment Day remains one of the best action films and one of the best sequels ever made. Its special effects are still extremely impressive today. What surprised me the most about the film when I first saw it was the transformation in Linda Hamilton’s character, Sarah Conner. It’s clear that Hamilton worked out hard for the film and understood what a physically and mentally strong specimen her character would be in the second film.
One of my favourite sequences in the movie is when the T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and a teenage John Conner (Edward Furlong) break into the psychiatric hospital where Sarah is being held and break her out. Sarah was committed to a hospital for the criminally insane after she attempted to bomb a computer factory in an attempt to alter the future. Cyberdyne Systems covered up all of the physical evidence of the Terminator from the first film leaving Sarah with nothing to back-up her claims about the coming of Judgment Day. While in lock-up, Sarah is put in restraints and confined to her bed after a violent outburst during an interview she has with Dr. Silberman. An orderly enters her room where Sarah lies completely motionless and licks the side of her face to get a reaction from her, but Sarah does not move. When he leaves, Sarah spits a paper clip from her mouth which she swiped from the interview room earlier and uses it to unlock her restraints. When she escapes her room, she encounters the orderly who licked her face and clobbers him with a wooden stick. I remember smiling at this moment of vindication for Sarah.
What ensues is a sequence where Sarah works her way through a series of locked gates throughout the floor, taking one hospital staff after another as a “hostage” to get security doors unlocked. She encounters Dr. Silberman, breaks his arm with the baton, fills a syringe with a cleaning agent and threatens to inject him with it if he won’t help her to escape. Sarah steals a set of keys and runs through the hospital opening doors and relocking them behind her, the security alarm now blaring with security guards in hot pursuit. She breaks a key off in one lock to thwart their passage. She eventually finds herself down a dead-end corridor and frantically searches for somewhere to run. Just then, she sees the T-800 come off of an elevator and is immediately overcome by shock and fear. She yells, “No! No!” and runs the other way not realizing that though the T-800 looks like the last Terminator who was sent to kill her, has this time been programmed to save hers and John’s lives.
A group of orderlies converge on Sarah and knock her to the floor. “He’ll kill us all!” she yells hysterically. The T-800 makes quick work of the group of orderlies, throwing one into a glass window, another over a door and a security guard down the hall with one push of its hand. John hastily explains to a wide-eyed Sarah that the T-800 was sent to protect them. The Terminator sent to terminate Sarah and John – the T-1000, a more advanced, liquid metal model – shows up on the scene and walks clear through a set of steel bars. The two robots engage in a shoot-out as John and Sarah flee to the elevator. One of the best moments in this sequence is Dr. Silberman’s reaction to seeing the robots. He is completely shocked and dumbfounded by what he is witnessing, his mouth gaping open. It’s as though he realizes that what Sarah has been talking about all along weren’t the ramblings of a crazy woman. It’s a great escape scene filled with tension, action and even a little bit of humour and it features the film’s finest characters at the beginning of a fabulous cat and mouse game and a chase of epic proportions.