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Here’s the deal, I’m counting down the greatest movie brawls that never happened using AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Heroes and Villains list, pitting placement against placement. It occurs to me that I could turn this into a tournament… but I probably won’t. Yesterday’s was a bit lackluster, but we’re totally making up for it today with the freaking awesome #48 set-up:

[WARNING. If you haven’t seen The Usual Suspects, stop reading, go watch it and come back.]

#48. T-800 Terminator (Terminator 2) vs. Roger “Verbal” Kint aka Keyser Soze (The Usual Suspects)

Yes, it’s laconic robot badass versus faking-a-limp master of manipulation.

So, you could kill Paul with your bare hand, right?

BACKGROUND

The Terminator, this time, has been reprogrammed by gravel voiced future John Connor (some time after Terminator: Salvation) to travel back in time and protect himself from liquid metal Terminator: T-1000 (who somehow didn’t make AFI’s list). T-800 rescues grunge-fop Connor, then they spring his mom from a mental institution, back when she was Linda Hamilton and could actually pull off that hair-do.

Because, no. Just no.

The Governator plays surrogate father to thats-how-the-kids-talk John Connor, learns a bit of Spanish and blows stuff up. He makes the list because of how emotionally engaging and convincing his relationship with John is. John and Sarah have basically no relationship, regardless of how badly she wants to protect him. Terminator has no emotions and yet still manages to create a bond.

In the other corner, Verbal Kint is one of two survivors of a harbor massacre. Verbal regales the investigating detective with the story of how he was in a line-up and the fine bunch of reubens were blackmailed, via Pete Postlethwaite, into attacking the ship. More stuff happens and we get to the legend of Keyser Soze, an underworld bogeyman, who is apparently the one pulling all the strings here. Verbal, for his part, is a nervous, club-footed supposed con-man. As the story ends, PLOT TWIST: Verbal is revealed to be Keyser Soze and who the hell knows how much of his story was true. Seriously badass.

TOOLS OF THE TRADE

The Terminator is a pretty straight-forward shoot ’em up style fighter. Who happens to have a robot brain. So, there’s all the guns, but there’s also the targeting computer. He doesn’t really do stealth or even much in the way of strategy. T-2 is really kind of a noble-caveman vs. cunning-swordsman duel.

Verbal/Soze, on the other hand, is supposedly possessed of absolute ruthlessness and an almost god-like ability to make people dead. He is capable of anything and not in the sense of being willing to do whatever, but the sense of actually being able to get nigh anything done. Something he manages to achieve, apparently, via an intricate series of deception, misinformation and myth. Which kind of makes the T-1000 a good metaphor for the literal Soze.

METHODS AND MOTIVES

The Terminator has one job: protect John Connor. He’s a robot, there isn’t a lot of depth here. He does his protecting by shooting anything that even hints at hurting John.

Where the T-800 has everything on his sleeve, Soze’s got everything up his. What he wants is… um… money? He’s building a criminal empire, so yeah, power, wealth, prestige, etc. Things he gets by lying and manipulating. There may be other things, but the film leads us to believe that these are all he needs.

NOTE: I’m posting this the same day that Pete Postlethwaite passed on and California swore in a new governor. Just really fitting. Completely accidental and, in a somber way, awesome.

THE SHOWDOWN

Round 1: Early 90s LA

For the sake of argument, Keyser Soze is the man behind SkyNet (I think I just invented a new genre of fanfiction) and sees John Connor as the threat to SkyNet that he is. Regardless of what he knows/believes about the robot uprising, he knows the Connors are out to bring down his company. So, he poses as Miles Dyson (the black guy in T-2) and he helps them break into Cyberdyne. Naturally, it’s a trap set-up to separate John from his robo-bodybuard. While T-800 goes on his mini-gun rampage, Soze/Dyson kills Connor. Of course, he then creates a paradox in the time-space continuum and everything goes boom. So…

WINNER: Technically, Keyser Soze

Round 2: Mid-90s LA

Connor and Co. get in touch with someone who says that the Terminator arm will be on a certain boat under decreased security and they can go rampaging in and grab it. Keyser Soze doesn’t own Cyberdyne, but he wants that arm. They attack the boat, kill and kill and kill… then the boat catches on fire. The T-800 survives, but John Connor dies of his burns and… paradox, again.

WINNER: Still Soze, but not really.

FINAL ANALYSIS

Even at his most cunning, the T-1000 was still a lone wolf going for the up-close kill. Soze is way craftier and has a network of resources at his disposal. The Cyberdyne company itself poses no real challenge to Team Connor because they’re just a big money grubbing, publicly traded company. Keyser Soze is a ruthless criminal mastermind. They really don’t stand a chance. However, in killing Connor, Soze may be achieving his aims but killing Connor means Christian Bale Connor can’t send Michael Biehn back to become his Dad so Connor is never born, which means Soze never tried to kill him and it just loops from there. So, the final winner is…

 

Jumpin' Gigawatts!

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