Pictures presents a film directed by Steven Spielberg.
Written by Sacha Gervasi and Jeff Nathanson. Running time:
121 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for brief language and drug
references). Starring Tom Hanks, Catherine Zeta-Jones,
Stanley Tucci, Chi McBride, Diego Luna, Kumar Pallanatucci,
Barry Shabaka Henley, Zoe Saldana.
Steven Spielberg's new film, The Terminal, Tom Hanks
plays Viktor Navorski, a man from the fictitious country of
Krakozhia who gets stuck in JFK Airport after a military coup
in his country voids his VISA. Mildly based on the true story
of an Iranian man caught in a Paris airport, The Terminal
plays fast and loose with the facts. The film is an intelligent
comedy, one revels in small details and subtle emotions. That
is, until the over-the-top conclusion that requires us to
suspend our disbelief more than is comfortable.
is most special about The Terminal is the way in which
the story is told. The film is slow-paced and deliberate,
one that is more interested in exploring the concept than
advancing the plot. The first third of the film is devoted
entirely to how Viktor spends his time at the airport. It
isn't until the final two acts that the real plot kicks in.
The head of the airport (Stanley Tucci) is desperate to get
Viktor out of the airport, and tries all kinds of underhanded
ways to remove the new guy. In his attempt to get used to
his surroundings, Viktor meets a pretty stewardess, Amelia
(Catherine Zeta-Jones), with whom he tries to form a relationship,
and a trio of airport employees (Diego
Luna, Kumar Pallanatucci and Chi McBride), who help him adapt.
is successful as a comedy, less so as a drama. Spielberg and
Hanks know exactly how to play comedy, as some scenes are
hilariously funny. When The Terminal keeps its tone
light, it is entirely successful. But when Spielberg tries
to insert his trademark sentimentality into the film's conlcusion,
the results are offputting. The ultimate resolution to the
Viktor/Amelia subplot is not much of a resolution at all;
it's just...over. And when Viktor ultimately attempts to leave
the airport, the result is the sentimental equivalent of the
Spielberg is such a talented filmmaker that this ultimately
doesn't hurt the overall experience too much. By using one
giant model of JFK airport, he creates an environment nearly
as fantastical as his visions in A.I. and Minority
Report, and the fantastic is where Spielberg is most at
home (Schindler's List being the notable exception).
The man knows exactly what he is doing, and it shows. Ultimately,
The Terminal is a satisfying experience.
one of his best recent performances, Tom Hanks pulls off the
difficult feat of using a strange accent without exploiting
it for comedic effect. His eyes betray a whole range of emotions,
from confusion and fear to love and happiness. Stanley Tucci
is believable, although is character is a disappointingly
one-note villain. Catherine Zeta-Jones fares less well; her
performance is flighty and unconvincing, a big step back from
her sharp, Oscar-winning work in Chicago.
is to Spielberg's credit that he could make a film that runs
on too long, contains several unresolved subplots, has an
ineffective and manipulative climax, and yet is still entertaining
and uplifting. Compared with the much of Spielberg's ouvre,
it is a minor effort, but still a good bet for a summer expedition
to the movies.
2004 Matt Noller