The Machines

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

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.


Because of the events shown in the second film, Judgment Day did not occur as originally predicted. However, John Connor (Nick Stahl) still does not believe the future war has been totally averted. He is living "off-the-grid," in Los Angeles, California, with no permanent residence, credit cards, or mobile phone and is working freelance so he cannot be tracked. Skynet sends another Terminator, the T-X (Kristanna Loken), back to July 24, 2004, Judgment Day, to kill the human resistance's future lieutenants because Connor could not be located through any information databases. The T-X, later dubbed the "Terminatrix", is armed with a full arsenal of advanced weapons from the future, avoiding the restriction of non-living tissue by carrying them internally, including the ability to remotely control most machines.

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.


  • Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator: Reprising his role from the first two films. This film was Schwarzenegger's final starring role before becoming Governor of California.
  • Nick Stahl as John Connor: Edward Furlong, who played Connor in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, reportedly was not asked to reprise his role in T3 due to a substance abuse problem. In a 2004 interview, he responded, "I don't know [what happened]. It just wasn't the time. I was going through my own thing at the point in my life - whatever, it just wasn't meant to be.
  • Claire Danes as Kate Brewster: In a 2005 interview on National Public Radio's Fresh Air, Danes revealed that she was cast for the role of Brewster as a last-minute replacement after actress Sophia Bush was thought too young to portray her. Danes started filming immediately and basically learned about her character on the job. Danes later said this may have helped her performance as Kate Brewster's character was similarly thrust into a strange new reality with no warning.
  • Kristanna Loken as T-X
  • David Andrews as Lieutenant General Robert Brewster, USAF
  • Mark Famiglietti as Scott Mason: Kate Brewster's slain boyfriend was originally named Scott Petersen, but was changed in order to avoid giving the false impression that this was a type of "reverse parody" of the Scott Peterson case surrounding the murder of Laci Peterson and her unborn son Conner. However, in the ending credits his name is still listed as "Scott Petersen."
  • Earl Boen as Dr. Peter Silberman: Reprising his role from the first two films. Boen appears for one scene, attempting to comfort Claire Danes' character after she witnesses the acts of the Terminator. Besides Schwarzenegger, Boen is the only actor to appear in all three Terminator films.
  • Moira Harris as Betsy
  • Chopper Bernet as Chief Engineer
  • Christopher Lawford as Brewster's Aide
  • Carolyn Hennesy as Rich Woman

Linda Hamilton was initially approached to reprise her role as Sarah Connor, but turned it down. John explains in T3 that Sarah died of leukemia in the year 1997.


James Cameron announced T3 many times during the 1990s, but without coming out with any finished script. During his divorce with Linda Hamilton, she asked for the Terminator franchise rights which she promptly sold to Carolco Pictures owners Mario Kassar and Andrew G. Vajna. Tedi Serafian wrote a script, but as it would cost over $300 million, it was rejected. Serafian earned a "story" credit after screenwriters John D. Brancato and Michael Ferris used some of his ideas, like Sarah Connor being dead and the rival Terminator being female.

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.

Filming began on April 12, 2002.

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.


Terminator 3 earned $150 million domestically and $433 million worldwide on a budget of $200 million. It earned a 70% positive rating on the film critic aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes. Terminator and Terminator 2 both have 100% ratings. James Cameron, who created the Terminator franchise but otherwise played no role in T3, told the BBC he thought the film was "in one word: great. In The New York Times, A. O. Scott said the film "is essentially a B movie, content to be loud, dumb and obvious".


Several computer and video games were based on the film. An action game called Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was released by Atari for Xbox, PlayStation 2, and Game Boy Advance. The game was poorly reviewed, with a 39% average on Game Rankings for the PS2 version. A first-person shooter titled Terminator 3: War of the Machines was released for PCs as well. A third game titled Terminator 3: The Redemption was released for Xbox, PlayStation 2 and Nintendo GameCube.

The film's soundtrack was released by Varèse Sarabande on June 24, 2003:

  1. "A Day In the Life"
  2. "Hooked on Multiphonics"
  3. "Blonde Behind the Wheel"
  4. "JC Theme"
  5. "Starting T1"
  6. "Hearse Rent a Car"
  7. "TX's Hot Tail"
  8. "Graveyard Shootout"
  9. "More Deep Thoughts"
  10. "Dual Terminator"
  11. "Kicked in the Can"
  12. "Magnetic Personality"
  13. "Termina-Tricks"
  14. "Flying Lessons"
  15. "What Do You Want on Your Tombstone?"
  16. "Terminator Tangle"
  17. "Radio"
  18. "T3"
  19. "The Terminator" (from the motion picture The Terminator, composed by Brad Fiedel)
  20. "Open to Me": performed by Dilon Dixon
  21. "I Told You": performed by Mia Julia

Songs that are not included on the soundtrack album:


Josh Friedman, producer of the 2008 Fox television series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which takes place after Terminator 2: Judgment Day, stated in an interview that the events of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines occur in an alternate timeline from that of the TV series.

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.


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