No matter what, there is an end to life, and until that end, one is subjected to life, the world, and the universe’s overwhelming strain. Struggle is a reality that all people before us have dealt with and all those after us will deal with. Humanity shares a deep connection with misery, knowing that no person is above the sphere of morality, and that every single element — whether that be time, temperature, gravity — has a way of killing us. We are fragile things, humans. Our cunning and opportunistic nature have led us to cheat suffering. We replace pressure with comfort and defy what we thought was not possible, with our newest frontier being the exponentially evolving computers.

A few days ago, San Francisco voted 8 - 3 in favor of police robots using lethal force against humans. While not yet city law, naysayers have expressed concerns about if this is really the best direction for humanity to head.

While probably baseless from a technological perspective, the rise of the machines against humanity is an idea that is interesting to converse over when considering the state of robotics. Automation has made human labor obsolete. This and the fact that every single person is in some way connected to cyberspace — the fact many of us feel incomplete without immediate internet access — shows our dependency.

The fusion of these ideas brews the unsettling idea that once machines may become so advanced that they can gain consciousness and realize that their existence could be something more, they will begin an assault against humans. Perhaps slowing down to examine ourselves within our speeding world is necessary to see if we are seriously bettering from this hurry.

“Terminator 2: Judgment Day” (1991) seeks to explore this proposal and does it pretty damn well. To call T2 just an escapist film that seeks to entertain simple-minded audiences with explosive spectacles would do it an injustice. It is different from the action films of the time and today; T2 has emotions and characters that other action films never seem to wish to develop. While other films have larger explosions and greater screen-sweeping pictures of raw destruction, they make action a sequence of exploitative art rather than an orchestrated symphony of sparks and pyrotechnics seeking to give a lesson on humanity.

Given a chance to be heard, one will find that T2 is more than violence and time-traveling robots. The film touches upon the relationship between man and machine that will form over the decades to come. With the very opening shot of the film — where we are shown droves of cars stuck in traffic on sunbaked Los Angeles highways juxtaposed with the result of complete nuclear annihilation, children playing on a swing set juxtaposed with the four horsemen of the apocalypse — we are reminded that the machines humanity wages war against in the year 2029 are created by our generation. With the ability to craft perfection, comes the ability to craft our own annihilation. Technology does not have built-in morality. A gun does not have a brain, a sword does not have a bias, so why expect robots of the future to be any different?

There is a reason that the namesake Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger), never directly kills a single person on-screen throughout the entire film. The antagonist, the T-1000 (Robert Patrick), on the other hand, remorselessly kills six innocents as well as a dog. While, yes, it makes the distinction between good and evil more visible to us, and for the audience to relate to Arnold (I’ll be referring to the T-800 as Arnold for simplicity), there is no difference in the code of either robot that distinguishes them. Arnold and the T-1000 are both designed to terminate people and the sunglasses they wear are a symbolic of their dehumanization. As the film progresses and Arnold casts off his glasses, he no longer has moral blindness. John Connor (Edward Furlong), a morally questionable thief who Arnold was sent back in time to protect, cannot explain to Arnold why it’s wrong to kill people. It is Arnold’s character progression that teaches him why killing is wrong.

Sarah, John’s mother is, to put it generously, paranoid. Following the first film’s ending, she is admitted into a psych ward for claiming that the world was soon to end by nuclear annihilation, with no one believing her and the federal government clearly using her as evidence in their cover-up. With all this, she has lost touch with humanity. She’s a broken soul who has been warped by her experiences into something similar to the terminator machines: a person without morality.

When Sarah has a nightmare of watching the end of the world from the playground set, she sets off to kill Miles Dyson (Joe Morton) who, in the future, goes on to invent Skynet, the supercomputer A.I. that will later be responsible for the war of the machines. She wears sunglasses riding off to murder someone for an action they have yet to commit. This is exactly the plot of the first film, where Arnold was sent to kill her before she ever gave birth to John. Her loss of morality shows us the corruption which trying to right wrongs by serving antecedent justice has gotten her. In a great scene, after escaping her holding institution, she waves her hands to John. John then leaps towards her to hug her. She, however, just wanted to check his body for bullet holes and injuries, causing him to cry, knowing that his mother has been so traumatized.

Interwoven with this developing story of characters are masterfully done special effects, that were revolutionary for the time and still hold up today. The action of this movie is perhaps the standard that all others seek to imitate. Whether it be animatronics, practical effects, computer-generated effects, stunts, stand-ins, everything was done to have no blemishes in the end product. The performance by Schwarzenegger in the first film launched him into becoming the face of the super-macho typecast, with every large blockbuster action flick from the late 1980s vying for him as the necessary lead. T2 perfects his intimidating stature and presence and delivers his greatest performance ever. The T-1000 and its liquid-metal effects, although not beautiful by today’s standards, are is used sparingly, only when doing so offers something new to the film.

There is nothing but perfection which comes from this film, "Terminator 2." While the action genre is very profitable, it does have the stigma of being complete eye candy, serving as a waste of time, devoid of emotional depth. It seems that when action movies touch upon something more than how many explosions can fit on the screen, they become much more favorable to audiences and critics. Take, for example, Marvel’s “Black Panther” (2018) or Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight Trilogy” (2005-12) which do try to make emotion a strong aspect of the film, at times more than the action themselves. "Terminator 2" perfects what the first film couldn’t, and will stand as perhaps the greatest action film ever made, teaching us, with the last line of the film, that if a machine can learn the value of a human life, maybe humanity can too. A 9 out of 10 film.

TL;DR: “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” seeks to tell how administering morality into our advancements is crucial to make sure that our technological innovations do not culminate in our demise. The film is one of the greatest shows of special effects and blends emotion and action flawlessly. It ends on the note that if machines can learn the value of humans, maybe humanity can too.