One of the most original, influential & greatest examples of sci-fi actioners to surface on the big screen, The Terminator is a masterwork of quality storytelling & passionate filmmaking that brims with unique ideas, clever imagination, relentless creativity, compelling characters & state-of-the-art craftsmanship, and is also notable for launching the filmmaking career of James Cameron while solidifying the star power of Arnold Schwarzenegger in Hollywood.
The Terminator follows its titular character; an unstoppable & indestructible cyborg assassin from the future who is sent back in time to terminate Sarah Connor; a young waitress in the present day whose unborn son will one day lead humanity in a war against the machines in the post-apocalyptic future. Also arriving from the same future into the present world is Kyle Reese; a soldier whose only mission is to protect Sarah Connor from the Terminator at all costs.
Written & directed by James Cameron, The Terminator marks a truly remarkable breakthrough for the then-new filmmaker into the Hollywood industry while also wonderfully showcasing his excellent understanding of what constitutes a great cinema. It’s astonishing how amazingly well this film has aged over the years despite its low budget plus what Cameron manages to put up on the screen on that allowance only speaks volumes about his sweeping cinematic vision, creative ability & precision eye for detail.
Coming to the technical aspects, I’ve got nothing but praise for this film. The special effects team does a terrific job in bringing to life what is a frightening portrait of a post-apocalyptic future & it looks incredibly convincing on the screen. A few effects do appear slightly dated but it doesn’t affect the whole experience by any means. Cinematography makes smart use of camera in sustaining the film’s tense ambience from start to finish while Editing unfolds the story at a brisk pace and is at its best during the action sequences.
As far as acting department is concerned, The Terminator features an interesting ensemble in Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton & Michael Biehn, and all three of them have done an outstanding job in their given roles. Biehn balances himself well as Kyle Reese, Hamilton’s character arc is most rewarding for we see her going from a vulnerable victim to accepting her fate & fighting for her survival, but the real star of the film is of course Schwarzenegger in the role of Terminator; who is now ranked amongst cinema’s most iconic characters.
Requiring minimum amount of dialogues and a physical built that’s imposing n intimidating at the same time, the role of the Terminator was tailor-made for Schwarzenegger’s talents and he absolutely nailed it with his mute expressions, automated dialogue delivery & machine-like movements to breathe life into an antagonist that’s simply invincible. Last but not the least, the background score by Brad Fiedel is an underrated gem in itself, its main theme has easily become one of the most recognizable tracks in existence today, and it compliments the entire narrative in a seamless manner.
On an overall scale, The Terminator is one of the best films of the 1980s that has exquisitely endured the test of time, is a landmark achievement of its genre that continues to inspire & influence films even today, and is one of the proudest works in the career of both Cameron & Schwarzenegger. Unforgettable for its contribution to pop culture, immortal for its lasting influence on science-fiction & action filmmaking, and significant for enriching the film world with a master storyteller who would go on to script an unparalleled legacy of his own in his later films, The Terminator is an undeniable classic in every sense of the word.