The Terminal Reviews
nation of Krakozhia, flies into JFK airport. At Customs he is forbidden
entry to the USA - Krakozhia has been taken over in a coup and the US
does not currently recognise the new regime, or nation. In addition,
the borders of Krakozhia are now closed. This leaves Victor in limbo -
he cannot enter the US or go back to Krakozhia. While waiting for the
diplomatic situation to sort itself out he is forced to live in the
International Transit section of JFK, living off his own
resourcefulness. He also makes some new friends along the way.
Painful to watch. The movie had heaps of potential as a wry look at
diplomacy and international politics and how it affects everyday
people. Instead director Steven Spielberg tries to make this
thought-provoking situation into a comedy.
Not that it's funny. Well, maybe if you're 10 years old, it's funny,
but if you've got a developed sense of humour or any degree of
intelligence, it's not funny at all. 10-year-olds do seem to be the
target market as the "humour" is corny and involves cultural
stereotypes, no-speak-English farce and other cheap shots.
Continuing the made-for-kids theme, the movie quickly regenerates into
a poor downtrodden hero vs all-powerful bad guy caper. Pity that the
"bad guy", the head of security for JFK, is actually trying to help
Victor, while doing his job. He gives Victor ample opportunities and
avenues to improve his situation but Victor is too stupid to take them.
Yet Spielberg makes him the bad guy and Victor the good guy.
There is also a romantic drama element to this. Once again, it's more
kids' fantasy than anything approaching reality. The catering
guy-customs woman story was very stupid and contrived. The Victor- air
hostess story was a bit more realistic, but very trite.
Tom Hanks delivers easily his most irritating performance, laying on
the faux Russian accent and no-speak-English shtick so thick that it is
impossible to like Victor.
Then we have inconsistencies in character behaviour, sub-plots that go
nowhere, random stuff that just happens to sort out a situation, cheesy sentimentality. The
only times I liked the movie were when Victor showed some
resourcefulness (eg the baggage trolleys/25c).
What a mess.
Again, I don't think its a bad film, but Its purely solid spectacle entertainment at its core, with some very thoughtful questions and ideas. It is, however, afraid, as most Hollywood pictures are, to make more sense. To have its audience ask more important questions, to think more outside the box and to have some bigger connection to reality. And yes, I am aware that many movies I've seen don't have realistic worlds, but then again, its all about the context of that world. I don't watch "Animaniacs" and expect the world to be very realistic (and I would actually pick any episode of "Animaniacs" over this film any time of the day); incidentally Spielberg produced "Animaniacs" via Amblin Entertainment.
All in all, it is a thoughtful, heart warming film, but a flawed one nonetheless.