Starring: Tom Hanks, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Stanley Tucci
Director: Steven Spielberg
Running Time: 128 mins
The Terminal is an American film about Viktor Navorski, an Eastern European who finds himself stranded in JFK Airport in New York after he is refused entry to the US, and cannot be deported. As a result, he is forced to live in the airport terminal until he is finally allowed out.
By Steven Spielberg’s standards, this is an extremely light and easy-going movie. However, it’s not completely vapid and unintelligent, but is instead a hugely entertaining story that’s got a great deal of laughs, a wonderful central performance by Tom Hanks, as well as brilliant human emotion that makes it all much more impressive than a generic cheesy comedy-drama, but still an easy enough one to relax and enjoy watching.
Let’s start with Tom Hanks, who plays Viktor, this man who finds himself stuck in JFK Airport. He doesn’t speak much English, and so initially seems quite a naive person. Pulling off a foreign accent is incredibly hard in itself, but when you have to completely change your normal persona to play this character, it’s something really special, and Tom Hanks manages that superbly.
With the accent, and the more happy-go-lucky outlook on life, it felt to me as if Hanks had completely disappeared into the character, and gave a massively convincing and wonderfully pleasant performance, which deserves a huge amount of credit.
The main atmosphere of the film is a more positive, uplifting one too. It’s all about this guy who is put into a ridiculously frustrating situation (being stuck in the most tedious and stressful of all places, an airport lounge), and just goes with it, and makes his own home out of the place, which is simply really fun to see.
Whilst it’s also a fantasy that so many people had as kids, it’s brilliant to see how Viktor changes the airport from an airport into a very homely place, something that’s portrayed brilliantly by Spielberg. The movie was shot on a huge set, which was designed to look exactly like an airport, and does exactly that,so Spielberg has the opportunity to show Hanks’ character constantly moving around and living his life in one space by showing the same landmarks and shops again and again in the background.
That doesn’t come off as frustrating, however, it just really cements the idea that this man is truly stuck here, but is beginning to make a life out of his being in the airport, and is instead a fantastic touch to make the story all the more convincing.
But it’s not just a completely light-hearted movie. Sure, I thought the main part was the enjoyability and the laughs, but there’s also a good emotional story behind this. The homesickness and isolation Viktor feels at the beginning is very strong, whilst the ongoing battle between himself and the airport head of security who is trying to get rid of him puts you firmly behind Viktor, making every moment that he appears under threat all the more worrying, but exciting too.
Overall, I’ll give The Terminal an 8.4, because it’s got an absolutely fantastic central performance by Tom Hanks, supported by brilliant directing by Steven Spielberg, and a wonderfully uplifting, but still emotional and intelligent story that keeps you fully engaged from start to finish.