Arnold Schwarzenegger finally found a role perfectly tailored to his superb physique and limited acting talent, in one of the surprise box office hits of 1984.
In The Terminator he plays an unstoppable android assassin who is dispatched from the future to rub out a seemingly insignificant waitress called Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and change the future.
In 2029 human beings and artificial intelligence, in the form of computers and machines, have begun a war for dominance in the aftermath of nuclear war. The ‘machines’ are winning this war but a thorn in their side emerges in the form of a charismatic resistance leader who rallies the humans.
Having been unable to locate this person, the machines decide to send a human-looking cyborg killing machine (Arnie) back in time to 1984 to eliminate Sarah – the resistance leader’s mother – before she can give birth.
The human resistance learns of this plot and sends back one of their soldiers, Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), to protect Sarah.
When we first meet Sarah Connor she has the hair of a bedraggled poodle and a pet iguana called Pugsley. By the end of the movie she has crushed half a T-800 cyborg (“Now you’re terminated, fucker!”) and wound up in Mexico with a headband, an Alsatian . . . and the saviour of the human race in her belly.
Though shot on a tiny budget, The Terminator is a visually impressive and inventive film that never lets up for a second. The flashes of future wars – depicted at the start of the film and later on – evoke a strong sense of atmosphere and give the viewer a real sense of the desperate struggle humans are fighting against the machines in the near-future.