Cinema Review – The Terminal

news: Cinema Review - The Terminal

It’s not terminal

The Terminal is the latest film by Steven Spielberg, starring Tom Hanks. After the quirky Catch Me If You Can, Spielberg’s interest in aviation has returned with this new film about a man stuck in a traveller’s biggest nightmare.

Viktor Navoski (Tom Hanks), on a long-anticipated visit to New York from the fictional Eastern European republic of Krakozia, arrives at JFK airport just as a military coup abolishes his country’s government, rendering him stateless. A set of completely unbelievable bureaucratic glitches strand Viktor at the airport for ‘just a few days’, while everything is sorted out. The days then stretch into weeks and the weeks into months, while Viktor makes JFK airport his home. The story is based loosely on an Iranian who was stuck while in transit at a Paris airport – for much longer than Viktor – after the fall of the Shah. But this is a fairy-tale – despite the gravity of Viktor’s predicament and the horror afflicting his homeland, this film is packed with the feel-good factor. And in true style all good fairy-tales must have a baddy. This character comes in the form of Frank Dixon (Stanley Tucci) who, with pursed lips and narrowed eyes, conspires to make Viktor’s situation tougher than it needs to be. Dixon is nearing an important promotion and Viktor is not really what he needs to be worrying about – he sees this stateless, non-English speaking, friendly, chap as an inconvenience and not the man in distress which he actually is. During the procedural red tape and box ticking, Viktor, armed with a bunch of food vouchers, has to survive in the confines of the airport and essentially live on his wits – something that seems to come quite naturally to him. While he scratches around for food, builds himself a makeshift bedroom and even manages to earn a few bob by returning luggage trolleys, Viktor befriends a multicultural group of airport workers. These include Gupta the janitor (Kumar Pallana), Joe, the baggage handler (Chi McBride) sweet-faced food-service worker, Enrique (Diego Luna) and immigration officer, Dolores (Zoë Saldana), who performs the daily routine of rejecting Viktor’s application for permission to enter the United States. This bunch offer quite a few good comedy moments, not least of all the ‘slipping on a wet floor’ gag, which Spielberg does to death. Because this is a fairy tale, there also has to be a love interest, which in this film is played by Catherine Zeta-Jones – who, by the way, I absolutely despise. She has never been able to act and she is no different in this part. She plays every role the same – moody, rich, American bitch. Except in this film she is not rich, she’s a flight attendant who has a much older boyfriend (Michael Douglas?) who treats her very badly therefore the poor thing doesn’t know love or human kindness anymore – all together now, ahh. And to think she started off by dating John Leslie!

Apart from the very irritating Catherine Zeta-Jones and the copious product placement (Starbucks and Burger Kings in the corner of every shot) this is a good, watchable film. Speilberg’s comedy isn’t, traditionally, particularly subtle and The Terminal does not deviate from this norm, but the characters are good and you cannot help but like Viktor, even if you do often mistake him for Forrest Gump’s slightly brighter, older brother. At times Spielberg seems to be making huge digs at the American system’s intolerance of foreign immigrants, but then before you know it, you’re smiling at the cheesy social comment about how, in actual fact, Americans are all foreign strangers – they just live in the same place.

* * *Not an amazing film, but lots of good bits that leave you all warm and fuzzy inside. Perfect for Sunday afternoon viewing.


* missable

* * reasonable

* * * entertaining

* * * * very good

* * * * * outstanding