Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, commonly abbreviated as T3, is a 2003 science fiction/action film directed by Jonathan Mostow and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nick Stahl, Claire Danes and Kristanna Loken. It is the sequel to The Terminator (1984) and Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). The film was released in the United States on July 2, 2003.
After the failure of Skynet to kill Sarah Connor before her son is born and to kill John himself as a child, it sends back another Terminator in a last attempt before Judgment Day to wipe out as many resistance officers as possible, including John and his future wife.
As before, a reprogrammed Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger), identical to the Terminators from the previous films, has been sent back in time to protect John and his future wife, Katherine Brewster (Claire Danes). In a plot twist, this particular Terminator killed Connor in 2032 before being reprogrammed and sent back in time by John's wife. After rescuing them from an initial attack, the Terminator leads them to Sarah Connor's coffin, which her friends had filled with weapons in the event that Judgment Day was not prevented. The T-X and the police arrive, but the three narrowly escape in a hearse.
After the destruction of Cyberdyne Systems in T2, the U.S. Air Force has taken over the Skynet project as part of its Cyber Research Systems division, headed by Lieutenant General Robert Brewster, Kate's father. In an attempt to stop the spread of a computer supervirus, they activate Skynet, allowing it to invade all of their systems. John, Kate, and the Terminator arrive just a few minutes too late to stop them. The T-1 terminators, under control of the T-X, start killing office personnel. John, believing that Judgment Day can still be stopped, asks where the Skynet system core is; just before Lieutenant General Brewster dies, he tells John and Kate to go to Crystal Peak, a base built into the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
As they board an airplane to leave, they are attacked by the Terminator, which was reprogrammed by the T-X to kill them. To avoid killing Connor, it shuts itself down. When they reach Crystal Peak, they are attacked once again by the T-X. Suddenly, a helicopter comes crashing through the entrance and into the T-X. The Terminator has managed to reboot itself and regain control, announcing, "I'm back." The T-X detaches its legs as they are stuck underneath the helicopter, quickly crawling after John and Kate. The Terminator manages to catch hold of it and save John and Kate by detonating its last remaining hydrogen fuel cell in the T-X's mouth, destroying them both.
John and Kate discover that the base does not house the Skynet core. It is a Cold War-era fallout shelter for government VIPs: General Brewster sent his daughter and John there to protect them from the impending nuclear holocaust. There is no Skynet core; Skynet is software running on thousands of computers throughout the world, making Judgment Day unavoidable. Skynet launches nuclear missiles, starting the war against humans. Foreshadowing Connor's future leadership role, when the confused military forces from Montana Civil Defense and amateur radio operators ask for orders, he picks up the radio and takes command.
The studios had long wanted to make a sequel to the Terminator films. However, they were unsure whether Arnold Schwarzenegger would appear in it. Schwarzenegger initially refused to star in Terminator 3 because Cameron, who created the character and helmed the first two films, would not be directing the third installment. Schwarzenegger tried to persuade Cameron to produce the third film. Cameron declined, however, as he felt that he had already finished telling the story upon the conclusion of T2. But feeling that the Terminator character was as much Schwarzenegger's as it was his own, he advised Schwarzenegger to just do the third film and ask for "nothing less than $30 million."
The movie's final production budget was $187.3 million, making it the most expensive independently-produced movie in history. Schwarzenegger had to spend $6 million of his own money to help fund production. It was a scene that he himself wanted to put in the movie, as he explains in the audio commentary. Schwarzenegger agreed to defer part of his salary in order to prevent the relocation of the set to Vancouver, British Columbia, from Los Angeles. Many pundits saw this as preparation to his campaign for California governor, in which he emphasized giving incentives to have movie productions stay in California, rather than film in less-expensive places elsewhere. In that vein, the film was markedly "cleaner" than previous Terminator films, featuring significantly less violence and swearing.
The film takes several ideas from the novel T2: Infiltrator by S. M. Stirling. The novel, published in 2001, features a female terminator, the I-950, a plot point later reused in Terminator Rewired. The idea of Judgment Day being postponed was also used in the book. It also inspires the Sergeant Candy scene with its own explanation of the Terminator's physical appearance, in the form of Austrian counter-terrorist Dieter von Rossbach.
A scene filmed during production explains why one series of Terminators all look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. A character named Chief Master Sergeant William Candy (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) explains in an Air Force promotional video he was chosen to be the model of the Terminator project. Schwarzenegger's character has a Southern accent. When Lieutenant General Brewster questions it, another scientist replies (in a Schwarzenegger voice-over), "We can fix it." It was included in early prints of the film, but was later deleted. This scene is available as a special feature on the DVD version.
Songs that are not included on the soundtrack album:
The continuity of the plot of the franchise comes into question immediately in the opening scene of the film in which John Connor narrates the events that have led to his current situation. During this scene, he indicates that the Terminators failed to kill his mother before he was born, so they tried again when he was only 13. This is a continuity error between T2 and T3, since it is made evident in T2 that John is 10 years old during the events of that film. However T3 director Jonathan Mostow has stated this was a creative decision based on Edward Furlong's actual age at the time of shooting T2.
A fourth film, Terminator Salvation, has been announced, is slated for a summer 2009 release, and was written by T3 writers John Brancato and Michael Ferris. Arnold Schwarzenegger is not expected to reprise his starring role due to his duties as governor of California.