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5 Plot Point Breakdown: Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

By Anthony Faust · February 22, 2016

Screenplay Genre: Thriller/Action

Movie Time: 2:16

1. Inciting Incident

Two Terminators, the T-1000, made of liquid metal, and the T-800, an older model, a metal endoskeleton surrounded by living tissue, are sent back through time to Los Angeles.

Each Terminator has a mission. One has been ordered to kill John Connor (Edward Furlong), a young boy who will become a future military leader, and the other one sent to protect him. (00:10:32)

2. LOCK IN (End of Act One)

The Terminators meet in a hallway behind a shopping mall arcade. The T-800 grabs John just in time to save him from a hail of bullets fired by the T-1000, who has disguised itself as a police officer. The Terminators get tangled up and John escapes the mall on his motorcycle. After chasing John through a flood control channel, the T-1000 closes in on its target.

But the T-800 has caught up and manages to slip through and pluck John off his motorcycle. The T-800 shoots the front wheel of the T-1000’s stolen truck. The truck explodes and John, safe from danger, and the T-800 escape. (00:33:40)

3. FIRST CULMINATION (Midpoint)

John and the T-800 have arrived at the Pescadero State Hospital for the Criminally Insane with one simple, yet dangerous, goal; to leave with one patient, John’s mother, Sarah. After subduing four employees trying to restrain Sarah, who has escaped from her cell using a stolen paper clip, the T-800 reunites John with his mother.

The T-1000 emerges at the end of a long hallway, oozing through a set of prison bars in pursuit of John. The T-800, John, and Sarah narrowly escape, stealing a police car and breaking through the entrance gate. (00:57:27)

4. MAIN CULMINATION (End of Act Two)

John, Sarah, and the T-800, along with Miles Dyson, Director of Special Projects, have rigged the Cyberdyne Systems building with high-powered explosives. Their goal is to destroy all evidence of Dyson’s work, the impetus for the artificial intelligence responsible for the Terminators.

They succeed, just as their nemesis, the T-1000, arrives on a motorcycle to resume its mission. (01:52:16)

5. THIRD ACT TWIST

After the CPU from the first Terminator has been destroyed, the T-800 points at its head, telling Sarah there is one more chip. The T-800 says goodbye to its assignment, a weeping John Connor, and grabs a chain holding a large hook. Sarah lowers the battered cyborg into a vat of steaming, molten steel. The future has been rewritten. (02:13:46)


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