Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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That Guy Salute: The Helicopter “Get Out” Guy in T2

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on June 12, 2008

Classic action movies are always mostly going to be about the big action sequence–the twenty-minute chase, the climactic one-on-fight, the extended shootout, you know the deal. But often in these movies, it’s not the big set pieces that stick in your head as much as the miscellaneous, almost tossed-off moments of levity or seemingly meaningless wanton destruction (or both). They’re the moments that maybe don’t even really stand out until the fourth or fifth time you see them, or not until it pops into your head randomly months after you last saw it, at which point you realize that they might be the best part of the whole movie.

T2 has classic action sequences to spare. Most movies of its sort would be lucky to have one unforgettable extended, multi-layered, hugely suspenseful and technologically innovative set piece, and T2 has at least three, the last of which lasts about a half-hour. If you wanted to call it the best action movie ever made, I probably wouldn’t disagree. But my favorite part of the movie comes right at the cusp of that amazing climactic action sequence, where Sarah, John and the Terminator have escaped from the police siege of SkyNet in a SWAT van. The T-1000, late on the scene in his trademark cop gear and motorbike, emerges from the smoke of the recently exploded SkyNet office, and jumps his bike off the 20-somethingth floor and onto a police helicopter, in which he punches a hole (with his head, of course) and slinks his way through. To the present helicopter pilot, he delivers simple instructions:

“Get out.

And it’s the sheer compliance of the helicopter pilot that kills me. The T-100 kills a lot of people over the course of T2–John’s foster parents, some cops holding Sarah, a couple random bystanders who might slow him down a couple of milliseconds by continuing to breathe, and probably about a dozen people over the course of the movie. But he doesn’t even waste the energy to kill the helicopter pilot in this scene. Instead, he scares him into (presumably) killing himself, scaring him so unbelievably shitless that he’s more than happy to take the maybe 20-story jump–he nods in agreement, and rushes his way out the helicopter without even removing his headphones–rather than to continue chilling in the copter with the T-100. And you know, if some dude jumped a motorcycle onto your helicopter, headbutts it in, and then morph-slithered his way through the hole, you’d probably take your chances with gravity and concrete as well.

Oh yeah, and the actor who plays the helicopter guy? Well, they didn’t bring in just any jobber for such a delicate role. They farmed it out to stuntman/actor/second unit director triple-threat Charles A. Tamburro. Check out this resume–Rocky III, Scarface, Die Hard, True Lies, Se7en, Heat, even 2 Fast 2 Furious. Don’t know exactly how big the role he plays in these movies is, but now whenever I watch one of these movies, I’m gonna have to keep an eye out for this guy–he could end up being a bigger action movie That Guy than Ernie Hudson.

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