Sarah ConnorKyle Reese

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The Terminator is a 1984 sci-fi action film which became the break-through role for former body-builder Arnold Schwarzenegger. more...

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Directed by James Cameron, the premise of the movie is that a "cybernetic organism" (living tissue over a metal, robotic endoskeleton), the Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 800 Series Terminator (played by Schwarzenegger), has been transported back in time from 2029 A.D. to May 12, 1984 to assassinate a woman named Sarah Connor (played by Linda Hamilton). At the same time a man, Kyle Reese (played by Michael Biehn), is sent back to protect Connor from the cyborg. Issues raised by the film include time travel, causal loops, and artificial intelligence.

The sequels to the movie, Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, further developed the story line and explored the ethical implications of machine intelligence as well as what it means to be truly human.


  • Arnold Schwarzenegger - The Terminator
  • Michael Biehn - Kyle Reese
  • Linda Hamilton - Sarah Connor
  • Paul Winfield - Lieutenant Ed Traxler
  • Lance Henriksen - Detective Vukovich
  • Bess Motta - Ginger Ventura
  • Earl Boen - Dr. Peter Silberman
  • Rick Rossovich - Matt Buchanan
  • Dick Miller - Pawnshop Clerk
  • Shawn Schepps - Nancy
  • Bruce M. Kerner - Desk Sergeant
  • Franco Columbu - Future War Terminator
  • Bill Paxton - Punk Leader
  • Brad Rearden - Punk
  • Brian Thompson - Punk

Plot summary

A young woman, Sarah Connor, finds herself pursued by a relentless killer for reasons completely unknown to her. She is eventually approached by Kyle Reese, who explains that in the future, an artificial intelligence called "Skynet" will be created by military software developers to make strategic decisions. The program becomes self-aware; in a panic, the humans attempt to destroy Skynet. In the interest of self preservation, Skynet seizes control of most of the world's military hardware (including various highly advanced robots), and launches an all-out attack on human beings. However, a man named John Connor eventually leads the human resistance to victory, only to discover that in a last-ditch effort, Skynet had researched time travel and sent a robotic killer back in time in the 1980s to destroy John Connor's family before he can be born. John Connor, of course, is Sarah's future son, and he sends back a trusted assistant (Reese) to protect his mother at all costs.

The key difficulty in Reese's mission is that the Terminator, variably known as a cyborg or robot, is of an extremely durable construction that can sustain a considerable amount of damage. Since the time travel mechanism precludes the traveler from carrying non-living matter outside the being's body, Reese was forced to arrive naked and unarmed, and the small arms of the 1980s that are available are simply not powerful enough to affect the Terminator. Furthermore, a Terminator's organic covering, when intact, makes it indistinguishable from an average person. This makes the task of convincing anyone of that time that this assailant is actually an extremely advanced machine - without being written off as crazy - almost impossible.


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