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Film: Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) is the third film in the Terminator franchise. It is the first film in the series to be directed by someone other than James Cameron, director Jonathan Mostow.

In the aftermath of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the Connors appear to have prevented SkyNet's takeover: the date Reese cited for Judgment Day has come and gone, and an adult John Connor lives off the grid to make sure no one (including Terminators) can track him down. But out of the blue, another shapeshifting Terminator, a T-X Model with a female appearance, shows up to carry out a specific mission: kill John Connor and as many of his future Resistance lieutenants as possible. A T-850 Model Terminator (functionally similar to the T-800, but with a few minor upgrades), reprogrammed to protect John Connor, also shows up.

John, who resents everything about what his late mother Sarah told him about the future and raised him to become, eventually returns to the fight alongside his reluctant ally Kate Brewster, and the T-850 to once again stop Judgement Day and save the human race.


This film provides examples of:

  • All for Nothing: Many of the events of the previous movie turn out to have been all for nothing because, as the T-850 points out, Judgement Day is "inevitable".
  • Alternate Continuity: This movie, T2 3D, and The Sarah Connor Chronicles go in three different directions after the events of Terminator 2.
  • Alternate Timeline: What the TX comes from compared to the T-1000.
  • Arm Cannon: The T-X can turn its arm into an energy gun and a flamethrower, among other weapons.
  • Artistic License - Cars: The T-X hacks into and remotely operates two police Crown Victorias, a Ford Econoline ambulance, and a 1985 Chevy C-30 crew cab. None of those vehicles had the type of computers that would allow this. All four used cable-driven throttles, ignition cylinders that require a physical key to operate and mechanical steering with hydraulic boost. In fact, the types of computer controls that might allow remote control (drive-by-wire throttles, computer-controlled ignition modules and remote start, self parallel-park) weren't commercially or, in the case of remote start, commonly available until a few years after the film's release.
  • Badass Grandpa: The Terminator himself, both for Arnie's age and him being an obsolete model.
  • Balls of Steel: The Terminator is a cyborg and may not even feel anything from this attack, even if the attacker is a cyborg as well.
  • Because Destiny Says So: The Terminator said it best in this film why John Connor will save humanity; "Because you're John Connor".
  • Big Damn Heroes: Just as the T-X arrives at Crystal Peak...the T-850 comes, ramming her with a helicopter. "I'm back!"
  • Bittersweet Ending: John and Kate realize they are powerless to stop Skynet's assault on humanity, but their survival means that John will fulfill his destiny and defeat Skynet.
  • Breast Expansion: The T-X increases its breast size to distract someone.
  • Chekhov's Gun: "When ruptured, the fuel cells become unstable." Guess how T-X is finished off?
  • Coffin Contraband: Sarah Connor's coffin turned out to be a weapons cache. She was actually cremated in Mexico.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: When SkyNet goes online, someone says that it's processing at 60 teraflops a second. So, that's 60 000 000 000 000 floating point operations per second a second.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The T-X analyses some human blood she finds by licking it...then gets an orgasmic look on her face when it comes back as belonging to John Connor.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Her: Sarah's off-screen death by leukemia is often seen as a mean-spirited Take That to Linda Hamilton for refusing to reprise her role as Sarah; according to most works published prior, Sarah was supposed to die on Judgment Day, exactly as she saw in the "nuclear nightmare" sequence. It should also be considered that Hamilton got the Terminator rights while divorcing James Cameron...with the sole intent of reselling!
  • Everyone Went to School Together: While it wasn't specifically said that all of John Connor's lieutenants went to school with him, it would appear that most of them did. From this we can conclude that the future ran out of professional soldiers and he had to fall back on people he knew for less than a year when he was ten (or thirteen, depending on which film you're watching).
  • Everything Is Online: Including sentient genocidal software. Even though it also isn't (such as credit card machines, who are on the phone lines but not the Internet).
  • Forgot About Her Powers: The T-X has on-board ranged weapons! She never uses them effectively because if she did John and Kate would be dead. Great!
  • Foreshadowing: See I Cannot Self-Terminate below. The Terminator responds to Kate's request because she's actually authorized to give him commands.
  • Genre Savvy: When Doctor Silberman sees Arnie's T-850 in the cemetery, the third time he's seen the guy (from his perspective, not knowing they were three different Terminators), he doesn't ask questions he doesn't hesitate: he runs like hell.
  • Groin Attack: During the fight between T-X and T-850, the female Terminator grabs and squeezes his nuts and then lifts his body as if he's just a styrofoam before she ram him to some fences. Could be considered funny when you realizes this happened in a toilet.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: As a nod to the second film, when Katherine Brewster (whom, unbeknownst to herself and the audience at that point, the T-850 must obey), says "Drop dead, you A**HOLE," the T-850 responds: "I am unable to comply."
  • I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: Subverted. The TX is speeding in a stolen convertible and a police officer stops her. She spots a big Victoria Secret billboard with a model wearing a wonderbra and inflates her bust size before the cop walks up next to her. It works and the cop is momentarily distracted by her cleavage, but instead of using it to get away with speeding, she kills him for his gun.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: When T-850 is hijacked by T-X. Also crosses with Logic Bomb when John makes him realize that if he followed T-X's command, he would fail his mission. Subverted in that "I know you're in there" fails, because, as the Terminator points out, desires have no bearing on its programming. The Logic Bomb does work, however.
  • I Lied: The Arnie Terminator pretends he'll let Katherine Brewster go if she tells him where John Connor is before admitting he lied, showing the epononymous machine has become ridiculously human enough to lie (he's been expanded with psychology routines). Or to reference his old movies.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: A cop gets the T-X's arm through him - while she's in the back seat!
  • Insistent Terminology: John refers to the T-850 as a robot. It quickly corrects him with about as much annoyance as possible for an emotionless killer robot.
    John: No I can do whatever I want, I'm not a robot like you!
    T-850: Cybernetic organism.
  • The Kindnapper: The T-850 kidnaps Kate Brewster to save her from the T-X.
  • Logic Bomb: When Ahnold gets captured by the T-X and reprogrammed to kill John Connor, Connor saves himself by making the T-850 realize that accomplishing that goal would mean failing its original mission; the logical conflict between the two causes the T-850 to destroy a truck instead of Connor, then shut itself down. He gets better, briefly.
  • Male Gaze: When the naked T-X is walking to a rich woman's car to steal her clothes, we have a very nice shot of the T-X's rear. It's nice to see some female booty in a Terminator movie for once.
  • Ms. Fanservice: The T-X.
  • Mythology Gag: The whole sequence reintroducing the T-850.
  • Oedipus Complex: Though it was probably unintentional, after Kate destroys an Aerial HK drone with a machine gun, a visibly attracted John stares at her in awed silence for a moment, then utters the following words;
    John: You remind me of my mother...
    • Even if it was unintentional, the fact that in the future John and Kate get married and have children sort of reinforces this idea. Also, present day John and Kate know about their future couple status.
  • Oh Crap: Doctor Silberman's face as he sees the T-850. And the T-850 before the T-X throws him into a bathroom wall.
  • Plot Hole \ Writers Cannot Do Math: Right in the opening narration there is a goof as John mentions he was 12 during the previous movie - not only it's canon that he was 10 (it even appears in John's file the T-1000 looks up), but that would set it in 1997, the same year of Judgment Day!
  • Quizzical Tilt: Done by the T-X in a reproving way, similar to the T-1000's Finger Wag.
  • Ray of Hope Ending: After spending the whole film trying to avert Judgment Day, the heroes fail at the end and the machines nearly wipe out all life on earth. Of course, the T-850 knew it would happen all along. John finally accepts his destiny as leader of the resistance, and begins his long journey to the eventual defeat of Skynet.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The T-1 robots activated by the T-X at the CRS complex, and the T-850 after being corrupted by the T-X, though he got better. Also the exoskeletal T-850's in the future war sequence.
  • Retcon \ Tech Marches On: Nice job of accounting for the development of the internet and distributed computing, which arose between the second and third films.
  • Robot Girl: The T-X.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Director, in this case. In the director's commentary for the T-X / T-850 fight scene in the toilets, Mostow comments that the two "literally weigh a ton." No, they do not. If they did, they would leave footprints in almost any material, would collapse the suspension of almost any vehicle they got into, and would be unable to use elevators or stairs. In T1, a hydrolic press smashed a T800, but the T850 can hold up a huge blast door with one hand, and manage to wrestle and blow up the TX at the same time.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Beautiful!: Subverted when the Terminatrix uses her rather extensive equipment to give herself an "upgrade." She then utters a rather sultry, "Hello, officer," and it appears that she'll use her assets to avoid a ticket. Instead, she kills the police officer and takes his pistol. Not that she really needs it.
  • Sexy Silhouette: When the T-X is walking down the street naked, her whole body from behind is covered in shadow.
  • Sexy Walk: Complete with this too.
  • Shout-Out: The T-X's death scene is nearly identical to the death of the original Terminator from the first film, complete with the classic line "You're terminated!"
  • Slow Doors: This allows Ahnold to jump under the door and hold it long enough for John and Katherine to crawl under it.
  • Stop, or I Shoot Myself!: John Connor tries this against the Terminator sent to protect him. It doesn't work because it has enough programming on human psychology that John's threat was most likely a bluff.
  • Suicidal Gotcha: It's rather subtle, but after it becomes clear they have failed to avert Judgment Day and having rigged the Crystal Peak mountain to explode, Kate Brewster suggests "we could just let it blow" which Connor seems to acquiesce to, only for them to change their minds (making this a Gotcha) when the radio starts receiving a call from defense forces, turning Connor into the effective leader of the resistance.
  • Swiss Army Appendage: The T-X has one of these: the liquid metal lets it be a normal hand, else it can fold about into a variety of weapons. The ones we see used are a plasma cannon, a nanomachine injector, and a flamethrower, but her navigational screen indicates there are around two dozen alternates. Including an M-41 Pulse Rifle, apparently.
  • Take the Wheel: The Terminator instructs John Connor to take the wheel so that he can perform improvised surgery on himself. John holds the wheel while the T-850 carves out his abdomen and removes one of his fusion reactors that was damaged by a plasma attack from the T-X. It explodes spectacularely after he throws it out the window.
  • Taking You with Me: The T-850.
  • Technopath: The T-X is designed by SkyNet as an "Anti-Terminator Terminator", presumably to counteract the human resistance's repeated reprogrammings of captured Terminator models. Her design includes nanotech to reprogram and remote control other machines. Throughout the film these include cars, trucks, primitive T-1s, and even the Arnie T-850 at one point.
  • Temporal Paradox: It's just about possible to buy that SkyNet had time to send back two Terminators before it was destroyed, but the narrative makes it clear that it was aware they'd failed when it sent back the third. Never mind that it's now a totally different SkyNet doing all this since the first was never built.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: Delivered by Kate Brewster in the magnetic tunnel :
    Kate: Just die, you bitch !
  • Trailers Always Spoil: While the final trailer doesn't give the storyline away, the fact that it has scenes from all over the movie through 2:30 minutes provides quite a few hints.
  • Twist Ending: Judgement Day is inevitable, and we get to watch The End of the World as We Know It. The purpose of the Terminator, and Kate's father, was to ensure the two of them survived the apocalypse.
  • Unusual User Interface: The T-X calls up a modem and "speaks modem" to it on the phone to access a computer.
  • Vanity Is Feminine: The T-X (a female "Terminatrix") walks past a mirror while battling the male T-850, and her head immediately whips to the side for as long as she's reflected in it. There was no reason offered for why she'd do this in the middle of a fight (aside from the obvious point of this trope) and it happens so fast that many viewers likely missed it.
  • Wall of Weapons: Sarah Connor hid a weapon cache IN HER COFFIN (of course, SHE isn't in it.) Of course that probably moves into Crazy-Prepared territory.
  • Who Needs Their Whole Body?: The T-X detaches her (presumably crushed) legs after Arnold finds that the perfect parking space for his stolen helicopter is right on top of her.
  • The Worf Effect: The badassery of the T-X is largely established by scenes where she whales on the T-850 and scenes where the T-850 complains she's better than him.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: The previous movie tried to imply the future is not set. This time, it's clear Judgment Day is inevitable, that all outcomes foretold by Kyle Reese are inevitable. Of course, many of John Connor's future revolution partners wound up killed before doing so, but this kind of thing comes with time travel.
  • You Said You Would Let Them Go/I Lied: Delivered by Arnie after tricking Kate, who is kept locked in the back of a pick-up. A Shout-Out to a famous scene in Commando with almost identical dialogue.


TerminatorFilms Of The 2000s-FranchisesTerminator Salvation
Terminator 2: Judgment DayScience Fiction FilmsTerminator Salvation
Terrifying RescuerImageSource/Live-Action FilmsImplacable Man

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