The Terminal

Pleasing, although admittedly tremendously conventional light hearted yarn.

Released in 2004, certified UK-12A. Reviewed on 01 Oct 2004 by Scott Morris
The Terminal image

Based loosely on a remarkable true story Spielberg's latest reunites him with Tom Hanks to tell the story of Viktor Navorski, stuck in a red-tape nightmare after a rebellion in his home country during a flight to America leaves him with an invalid passport and a citizen of a country that doesn't technically exist anymore. With Krakhosia closing their borders and the new war-torn government unrecognised by U.S. officials, Victor can't go home and can't enter America. Until the situation resolves itself, he's advised by officious immigration inspector Frank Dixon (Stanley Tucci) to make the International lounge his home. Thankfully he's not trapped in Edinburgh Airport or he'd have gone potty through boredom within three hours.

While it's not exactly designed for habitation, his building skills allow him to cobble together a suitable abode in a disused gate which in such a land of opportunity leads directly to a job offer. While he's sitting out the war in his country he's also making friends with a selection of mildly off kilter airport employees and air hostess Amelia Warren (Catharine Zeta Jones), who's love life is in many ways comparable with the battles raging in Krakhosia. As the situation drags on this loose end proves niggling to Dixon, who wants him out of his airport and into someone else's list of problems.

Wether it's reflective of reality or not, the sheer petty minded jobsworthiness of Dixon is perhaps the only thing this movie does wrong. You've no business being in a public post if you don't want to help people, and Dixon is perhaps as much use as alcohol-free vodka. At times he plays more like a pantomime villain, missing only a fine moustache to twirl as he lets loose an evil chuckle.

The Terminal image

We wouldn't want to call this film disappointing, after all it's a rather pleasing diversion for the perhaps slightly too lengthy two hours odd it lasts. It's just that Spielberg and Hanks together have produced some defining moments in cinema, and The Terminal doesn't have quite the same cachet. There's nothing much wrong with it, Hank's mild comedy accent aside and even Catherine Zeta Jones puts in a decent turn which is about all we've come to expect from her. What it lacks in spectacle it makes up for in good natured charm and some solid support from the likes of slightly crazed janitor Gupta (Kumar Pallana) and aesthetically pleasing immigration officer Torres (Zoe Saldana).

The story and characters may be slightly unconventional, but the telling of the story is about as conventional as Spielberg has ever been. Slick, polished and enjoyable certainly, but lacking an edge that makes so much of his other films lodge themselves in your psyche for days afterwards. It's an enduring testament to the man's ability that something that's merely 'very good' is viewed as a mis-step, and even this won't factor into the enjoyment of the bulk of the non-cinematically obsessed populous which we like to call 'people with a life'.

While (as we're in danger of boring you with) The Terminal isn't the most spectacularly memorable thing we've seen late it's very probably the best film we've seen in some time, Hero aside. It's just one that's also a little too ordinary, for want of a better term, to find huge inspiration in writing about. The bottom line, as ever I suppose from any review is to tell you, dearest of all our readers, if we think this is worth your time and money. The answer is unquestionably yes, so with this in mind I'll declare our duties adequately discharged and bring this article to an ungracious halt.

Were I in the business of passing quantifiable judgements, I'd award this 4/5 TippyMarks.

Steven Spielberg
Cast list:
Tom Hanks (Viktor Navorski)
Catherine Zeta-Jones (Amelia Warren)
Stanley Tucci (Frank Dixon)
Chi McBride (Joe Mulroy)
Diego Luna (Enrique Cruz)
Barry Shabaka Henley (Ray Thurman)
Kumar Pallana (Gupta Rajan)
Zoe Saldana (Officer Torres)
Eddie Jones (Salchak)