Time: 90 Minutes
Margot Robbie as Annie/Bonnie
Simon Pegg as Bill
Dexter Fletcher as Vince
Mike Myers as Clinton/Mr. Franklyn
Max Irons as Alfred
Director: Vaughn Stein
In the dark heart of a sprawling and anonymous city, two assassins carry out a sinister mission, a teacher battles a fatal illness, an enigmatic janitor and a curious waitress lead a dangerous double life. Murderous consequences unravel in the dead of night as their lives all intertwine at the hands of a mysterious criminal mastermind who is hell-bent on revenge.
Terminal looked like it could be something good, with people like Margot Robbie and Simon Pegg involved, and from the trailer it looked like it was interesting with a very stylish look. However, from what I heard from many people, the movie really doesn’t live up to any of its potential and was just plain bad. Nonetheless I was curious about it and still wanted to check it out, and having seeing it now, I can confirm that it doesn’t live up to the hype. It feels like the filmmakers tried to utilize a combinations of directors/writers to create a stylish thriller with twists and turns just for the sake of twists and turns. However, none of it comes together to work at all. Not all of it is bad, some of the actors are good, and is has a nice aesthetic and cinematography but unfortunately it’s not enough to save this movie.
As I said earlier, you can really see this movie trying to imitate so many other filmmakers’ styles’ but it doesn’t work. I’m not quite sure how this script got greenlit, it feels unfinished and even experimental, like the writer was trying out some ideas in a script and this was the first draft. First of all, this movie is needlessly convoluted. This movie is supposed to be very mysterious and have twists and turns with a noire feel to it but it doesn’t execute it correctly. It jumps between so many places and locations. It’s like they are trying to pull off a Pulp Fiction/Tarantino-esque script, without it being particularly smart and not jarring. Very early on it’s extremely confusing what’s going on and at a point you just stop caring about what’s going on and just accept that you’re not going to understand a lot of what’s going on. Granted once you see all the twists happen and the payoff, it makes the movie slightly better but at that point you’ve stopped caring about what was happening. None of the twists are satisfying outside of the fact that you can finally know what is going on. Not even the end is satisfying, you just want the movie to feel over because you feel underwhelmed by it all. Second of all, this movie tries so hard to be witty and smart with the dialogue and comedy and like 90% of it doesn’t work. It’s like they are trying to do a Guy Ritchie script but without it being good (which unfortunately happens way too often with some movies than it should). You can see this particularly with two assassins played by Dexter Fletcher and Max Irons with so much forced banter between them and it just becomes annoying. The movie however seems to think that its funny and entertaining because they just won’t stop with it. However the dialogue has more issues than just that, there is so much exposition dumps in most of the dialogue scenes, it’s really quite astounding, to the point where you just get bored. Also, some of the dialogue is really quite bad.
Third of all, the characters aren’t likable or interesting at all, so there’s no reason to really care about what happens to any of them. They are also very one note and don’t display a range of personalities. I’m fine with movies having just reprehensible characters but they need to have something to them that’s interesting, likeable or entertaining, otherwise the audience won’t be willing to care about what happens to them. Last of all, it’s just not interesting. With characters that are 2 dimensional at best, dialogue that’s exposition heavy and fails at its heavy handed attempts to be witty and a story that is just jarring and partially incomprehensible for no reason, it’s hard to get into. Most of all though, it doesn’t feel like they are trying to tell a story, it feels like they’re just having twists for the sake of twists. It doesn’t help that the plot meanders a whole lot and doesn’t seem to be leading to anything (with the exception of one twist). This movie is 90 minutes long and honestly, I’m glad that it’s that length. Because I can’t imagine having to watch any more of Terminal than the average movie runtime, even with that short runtime it felt pretty long.
One thing that the trailer did get right was Margot Robbie would be one of the best parts of the movie, and that’s definitely apparent here. In Terminal she uses a lot of her Harley Quinn craziness and charm here to great effect, the movie gives her lots of opportunities to chew the scenery. With that said, it’s not like one of her best performances, but she is having fun in the role and is giving it her all. Simon Pegg was also pretty good in his role here, he and Robbie have the closest thing to an interesting dynamic pairing of characters when it came to dialogue heavy moments (much more than the previously mentioned assassins played by Dexter Fletcher and Max Irons anyway). The rest of the cast don’t fare as well. I’m not exactly sure why Mike Myers is in this movie but for most of the movie he felt quite out of place, and really doesn’t get to show off or do much until like the last moments of the film. All the actors here are trying but only some of them come out giving okay performances. However like I said, none of the characters are particularly interesting and are very one note, so there’s only so much that these actors can do in their roles.
Terminal is absolutely stunning looking, with the colours, the lighting, use of neon, production design, it is a beautiful movie to look at. With that said, I can’t really say that the direction overall is great. The movie is incredibly stylish but at times the movie is trying way too hard to be stylish, especially with the scene transitions, that by the hour mark you just feel completely over it. It’s like its trying to be a Nicolas Winding Refn but only with the stunning cinematography. Some of the editing also is quite jarring and is made all the more worse by the constant time and location jumps in the story itself.
Aside from Margot Robbie, Simon Pegg and some nice cinematography, Terminal was a very underwhelming movie, with a messy and unfocussed script that feels like a lot of ideas and “cool things” thrown together. It’s not interesting, the characters are one note and you don’t care about them, the story is obnoxiously overconvoluted and throughout the whole thing, you really get the feeling that Terminal thinks it’s way better, smarter and funnier than it really is. The neon aesthetic and style is not enough to carry the movie, nor is the dozen twists and dialogue heavy and exposition dump scenes. I don’t think it’s terrible, I have seen way worse but this still isn’t a good movie at all. It is only 90 minutes long, so I guess you aren’t wasting too much time if you choose to check Terminal out, but I don’t think it’s really worth it.