THE TERMINATOR (1984)
The movie that was the foundation of his career. Arnold as a cyborg from the future, sent back in time to take out Sarah Connor, ranks as one of the greatest action/sci-fi’s in film history. Arnold taking out an entire police department is one of the best gun fights in any action movie.
The first time we ever see Arnold in military form. This is Arnold at his purest. An ultimate action hero with every weapon known to man. The plot is simple. The lines are hilarious. The fights are great. The battles are top-notch.
RAW DEAL (1986)
One of the more underrated and lesser known Arnold films. Arnold is a small town Sheriff who fakes his own death in order to go undercover beneath a new identity and take on the Chicago Mob. Arnold’s character feels like a human version of The Terminator. He looks fresh off the set of the 1984 ‘Terminator’ film. The movie is loaded with action, and Arnold battling an entire mob syndicate with multiple guns, that makes for an epic final 20 to 30 minutes.
I’d say this is likely tied for Arnold’s best movie. I’ll get to the other shortly. Arnold is basically just like he was in ‘Commando’ when he played John Matrix. In ‘Predator’ Arnold leads the ultimate commando team with Dillon joining his squad. The team arrives and finds the original team Dillon sent in has been murdered in the most brutal way. Arnold and his team dish out what they believe is “revenge” but the true culprit is lurking near them the entire time. The way the team is stalked is unlike any other film plot in history. It all comes down to Arnold and The Predator in an incredible battle. Arnold dawning mud to disguise himself and making weapons and traps off the land is fantastic. In the end, Arnold defeats one of the greatest threats he’s ever faced in any of his movies.
TOTAL RECALL (1990)
A much different film for Arnold and along the lines of his most bizarre films. That’s a good thing. Arnold is confused as to his true identity and what is reality throughout the entire film. It’s a great puzzle. He’s apparently married to a then extremely gorgeous Sharon Stone but suspects he cannot trust her. It’s crazy plot, played to perfection and Arnold has plenty of action battles and funny moments. See you at the party Richter.
TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY (1991)
Truthfully the greatest film of all Arnold films and Arnold at his absolute peak of fame. I’d still say this and Predator are his top two films. Arnold is back as the Terminator. This time, things have changed. Arnold is a new Terminator sent back to protect John Connor from one of the greatest villains he’s ever faced in his film career: The Evil T-1000. Absolute epic movie. One of the greatest movies, if not the greatest movie ever made. The entire plot between Arnold and John, and Arnold and Sarah Connor are well told and developed. Arnold has a whole new wave of catchphrases and makes the T-1000 go Hasta La Vista Baby!
TRUE LIES (1994)
A much different role for Arnold which brings him back with Director James Cameron. Another epic film. Arnold as a Secret Agent protecting the United States is entertaining. The story of his troubled family is very well told and presented. The action is top-notch and the movie is hilarious. Arnold kills plenty of terrorists and battles in a fighter jet.
A movie I perceived much as much larger upon its release, but with time seems to have faded into the background amongst Arnold’s filmography. The movie was groundbreaking at the time with its high tech weapons. Arnold is again at his best with plenty of action amongst a very intense plot. He even shoots an alligator.
TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES (2003)
Arnold is finally back as the Terminator after a 12 year wait. The 3rd Terminator is either liked or disliked by fans of the franchise. I personally am a fan of this movie. Arnold did a great job recapturing his iconic character. I do see where the movie lacks. I wasn’t high on the new John Connor and Claire Danes was highly annoying. The special effects and action are great, and the judgment day plot is outstanding. The TX as a villain is decent but no where near as great as the villains of the previous two films.
THE EXPENDABLES 2 (2010)
Arnold has more than a cameo in this sequel and joins Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis and Chuck Norris in an all out war against Jean-Claude Van Damme and his men. While Arnold isn’t in more than 15 minutes of the movie, he delivers plently of classic Arnold villain killing. He even asks Chuck Norris if Rambo is going to join them next. I suppose Barney Ross (hint: Stallone) is close enough.
I did not include The Escape Plan or Sabotage in this list as I have yet to have seen either.