The Terminator is a modern sci-fi classic, a proto-cyberpunk thriller sharing rarified air with Blade Runner, Alien and Robocop. Remarkably, The Terminator is only vaguely a science fiction. What director and co-screenwriter James “King of the World” Cameron gives us with The Terminator is a love story built around an elaborate cat-and-mouse thriller, an incredible action film and a wonderful romance within a time travel construct.
Cameron regulars Michael Biehn and Linda Hamilton are the tale’s time-crossed lovers, Kyle Reece and Sarah Connor. Arnold Schwarzenegger, in the role that put him on the map, stars as The Terminator, a cyborg from the future who travels back in time to “terminate” Sarah, the mother of a future revolutionary who saves mankind from genocidal machines. Reece, a soldier in John Connor’s army, makes the temporal displacement to protect Sarah, a woman he only knows from a photograph and Connor’s stories, but loves nonetheless.
Although there are unnecessarily melodramatic moments in the love story (a Cameron signature), the action is outstanding and, once it kicks into high gear, it doesn’t slow until almost everyone is dead and the audience is exhausted (another Cameron signature).