The Terminal

Review Date:
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: Sacha Gervasi, Jeff Nathanson
Producers: Steven Spielberg, Walter Parkes, Laurie McDonald
Tom Hanks
Catherine Zeta-Jones
Stanley Tucci
A man from the fictionalized country of Krakozhia is indefinitely stuck at New York’s JFK airport terminal after his passport is revoked when a military coup takes over the leadership of his country while he’s in the air. Essentially “in limbo” for the period of the film, we follow the man around as he tries to make due under the very odd circumstances. Somewhat based on a true story, but then again…what movie isn’t nowadays?
This film is the very definition of “light” entertainment. It looks pretty, it feels pretty, it acts pretty and unless you’re going to call it on a number of its far-fetched scenarios, you’re likely to appreciate it as an “old school” comedic romance that will both frivolously delight and entertain you and yours for a couple of hours. It’s not going to change your life, it’s not going to engrain in you moments of cinematic history, but it should offer a few chuckles, a few romantic interludes, a few interesting character interactions and yeah…even a touch of sentimentalism. From the reaction of the crowd with whom I caught this flick, it’s sure to engage the more adult folks who seemed to connect stronger with the film’s comedic sensibilities (they were in stitches when Hanks mispronounced “He cheats” as “Eat shit”). I didn’t laugh out loud at any point, but did smile through most of it, and was surprised to discover that Hanks’ heavy accent didn’t annoy me as much as I thought it might. In fact…I bought it! (“Please, please, please…”) The film meanders during its first hour, not exactly sure if it’s going anywhere (much like this review), with Hanks’ character essentially “pulling a CAST AWAY” and attempting his best to survive in an unknown place by himself. But once the secondary characters are established, particularly his relationship with the perfectly beautiful Catherine Zeta-Jones, things get a little more interesting in the second half, with moments of greater character interaction and feeling (read: “sappy” to some)

That said, I can’t help but “call” the film on a number of plot points, especially the main one which features this foreign dude hanging out in an American airport (New York, no less), with very little known about him (or the odd package that he carries around with him!), and yet, he’s able to walk around quite freely and even live in a section of the airport that’s being renovated. Uhhhhhm…I don’t think so!! The fact that Jones’ gorgeous stewardess character falls for him is also quite the stretch of the imagination, even more so, because the two of them don’t seem to have much in common and don’t really get into any deep conversations. In their relationship’s defense, I did appreciate the romance in the film’s latter half, which helped me get into it a bit. Yeah, I’m a softie this week. A subplot about two airport employees getting married without barely knowing one another was also unbelievable, as was a certain security guard’s action later on in the film and the entire airport’s workers so openly “falling” for Viktor (why such adoration??) All that said, it wasn’t necessarily the film’s plot points that I admired (you can look at it as some sort of “fantasy”, if you want), as much as its aura and outer-glow. Some of its snowy New York sequences were particularly fetching. As usual, Hanks is the key to this film’s success and unless you believe and like his character as the film flows along, you’re not likely to appreciate it all so much. I found him to be affable and genuine, and had no problem following his journey. Stanley Tucci was also solid (as always), but I can’t say that I appreciated his character’s singular dimension. The guy just became “evil” for the sake of being “evil” at some point. He needed more layers in order for me to take him (and that part of the film) more seriously.

So yes, the picture has its share of problems and Spielberg definitely needs to work with other cinematographers once in a while (enough with the overhead lighting, dude…there’s way too much light in a number of scenes and it’s getting distracting), but the film is also very light on its feet, features a cast of engaging secondary characters that keep things interesting, a cute romance between Hanks and Jones, which thankfully isn’t the film’s main focus (expect to be frustrated by its resolution though), a great score, as well as a cute, sentimental message as its conclusion.

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian

The Terminal