The Terminator is a blazing, cinematic comic book, full of virtuoso moviemaking, terrific momentum, solid performances and a compelling story.
The clever script, cowritten by director James Cameron and producer Gale Anne Hurd, opens in a post-holocaust nightmare, A.D.2029, where brainy machines have crushed most of the human populace. From that point, Arnold Schwarzenegger as the cyborg Terminator is sent back to the present to assassinate a young woman named Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) who is, in the context of a soon-to-be-born son and the nuclear war to come, the mother of mankind’s salvation.
A human survivor in that black future (Michael Biehn), also drops into 1984 to stop the Terminator and save the woman and the future.
The shotgun-wielding Schwarzenegger is perfectly cast in a machine-like portrayal that requires only a few lines of dialog.