Terminator 2: Judgment Day, commonly abbreviated as T2, is a 1991 science fiction action film directed, co-written and co-produced by James Cameron and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, and Robert Patrick. Set eleven years after the events of The Terminator, it follows Sarah Connor, her 10-year-old son John, and a reprogrammed Terminator from the future as they defend themselves from a T-1000 and attempt to prevent Judgment Day, a future event in which machines will begin to exterminate humanity.
T2 was a significant box office and critical success. It had an impact on popular culture, and is considered by many to be hugely influential in the genres of action and science fiction. The film’s visual effects include many breakthroughs in computer-generated effects, marking the first use of natural human motion for a CG character and the first computer-generated main character. The film won several awards including four Academy Awards for makeup, sound mixing, sound editing and visual effects.
In 1995, eleven years after the events of The Terminator, John Connor (Edward Furlong) is ten years old and living in Los Angeles with foster parents. His mother Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) had been preparing him throughout his childhood for his future role as the leader of the human Resistance against Skynet, but she was arrested after attempting to bomb a computer factory and remanded to a hospital for the criminally insane under the supervision of Dr. Silberman (Earl Boen). Skynet sends a new Terminator, a T-1000 (Robert Patrick), back in time to 1995 to kill John. A more advanced prototype than the Terminator that was sent after Sarah, the T-1000 is composed of “a mimetic polyalloy”, a liquid metal that allows it to take the shape and appearance of anyone or anything it touches. Though it cannot mimic complex machines such as guns or bombs, it can shape parts of itself into knives and stabbing weapons and can mimic the voice and appearance of humans. It assumes the identity of a police officer and goes in pursuit of John. Meanwhile, the future John Connor has sent back a reprogrammed Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger), identical to the one that attacked Sarah, to protect his younger self.
The Terminator and the T-1000 converge on John in a mall, and a chase ensues in which John and the Terminator escape by motorcycle. The Terminator explains that he has been programmed to protect and obey John. Fearing that the T-1000 will kill Sarah in order to get to him, John orders the Terminator to help free her. They encounter Sarah in the midst of her own escape attempt, and she is initially terrified by the Terminator but accepts his assistance after he helps them to escape the T-1000. The Terminator informs John and Sarah about Skynet, the artificial intelligence that will initiate a nuclear holocaust on “Judgment Day” and go on to create the machines that will hunt the remnants of humanity. Sarah learns that the man most directly responsible for Skynet’s creation is Miles Bennett Dyson (Joe Morton), a Cyberdyne Systems engineer working on a revolutionary new microprocessor that will form the basis for Skynet.
Gathering weapons from an old friend, Sarah plans to flee with John to Mexico. However, after having a horrific nightmare of a nuclear explosion she awakens with strengthened resolve and sets out to kill Miles Dyson. She wounds him at his home but finds herself unable to kill him in front of his family. Deducing her plan, John and the Terminator arrive and inform Miles of the consequences of his work. They learn that much of his research has been reverse engineered from the CPU and arm of the previous Terminator sent after Sarah. Convincing him that these items and his designs must be destroyed, they break into the Cyberdyne building and retrieve the CPU and arm. The police arrive and Miles is mortally wounded, but stays behind to trigger the detonator that will destroy his research.
The T-1000 pursues John, Sarah, and the Terminator, catching up to them in a steel mill. In a climactic battle, the Terminator fires a grenade into the T-1000 and it falls into a vat of molten steel where it is destroyed. John throws the pieces of the first Terminator into the steel as well. The Terminator then sacrifices himself, asking Sarah to lower him into the steel so that his technology cannot be used to create Skynet. Sarah looks to the future with hope, believing that if a Terminator can learn the value of human life, then perhaps humanity is not doomed to self-destruction.