There is something great about a high concept movie which stretches credibility and The Terminal fits that bill perfectly. Tom Hanks plays Viktor Navorski who due to a political coup in his home country, is not allowed to enter the United States or return home so finds himself trapped in JFK International Airport. The film centres around how a man can live in an airport and this is the movie’s charm.
The concept is ridiculous. Loosely based on a true story but almost certainly embellished for entertainment, it sees Navorski living off free crackers and sauce packets, playing lost and found poker with the airport employees and slowly become a legend around the airport. This isn’t a negative at all though because the story has a lot of charm and as silly as the concept is, you are engaged in all the different ways Hank’s main character manages to make life work in an airport.
All movies like this need a villain and it comes in the fantastic form of Stanley Tucci. Tucci plays the head of airport security who has little time for the ridiculousness of Navorski. The scenes between Hanks and Tucci work very well and Hanks plays off against the uptight Tucci by bringing a slightly ignorant, but never stupid, charm to his character.
Unfortunately, like any Hollywood movie, there also needs to be a love story. This is where the credibility of an already stretched plot starts to break. Catherine Zeta Jones plays the air hostess love interest who has only fleeting encounters with Navorski but manages to start a romance. It is a weak plot point and takes away from some of the more charming and interesting moments.
The film also begins to run out of steam for the third act. There is a scene involving the need for a translator and a meek hostage situation which struggles to raise the blood pressure and forces the incredulous into the silly. The charm always shines through though and the ending of the movie, neatly wrapping up the craziness that has gone before, satisfies.
Overall, The Terminal is a charming movie with a silly plot. It has a great, solid performance from Tom Hanks, who delivers a great back and forth with Stanley Tucci. The love story stretches credibility and the film goes a little too silly in places but it delivers a very entertaining film by the finale.
Rating – 3.5
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