In the post-apocalyptic future, reigning tyrannical supercomputers teleport a cyborg assassin known as the "Terminator" back to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor, whose unborn son is destined to lead insurgents against 21st century mechanical hegemony. Meanwhile, the human-resistance movement dispatches a lone warrior to safeguard Sarah. Can he stop the virtually indestructible killing machine?
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Richard Corliss As for Schwarzenegger, he nicely fleshes out the convention of a soulless gun for hire. With his choppy hair, cryptic shades and state-of-the-'80s leather ensemble, he looks like the Incredible Hulk gone punk.
Jay Scott An efficient, cold-blooded sci-fi splatter movie that never makes the mistake of forgetting that on some level it is deeply ridiculous.
Dave Kehr As a souvenir of a kind of B-grade action cinema that has all but vanished, The Terminator should find a small place in the heart of every movie addict.
Geoff Andrew More than enough violence to make it a profoundly moral film; and Arnold's a whizz.
Janet Maslin This is a monster movie, and the monster's role fits Mr. Schwarzenegger just fine.
Variety Staff The Terminator is a blazing, cinematic comic book, full of virtuoso moviemaking, terrific momentum, solid performances and a compelling story.