THE TERMINAL is an extremely witty movie that will make many people cry and laugh, as it explores the character of a man in a confined setting. With a surplus of literary references, including ones to Kafka’s THE TRIAL and CYRANO DE BERGERAC, THE TERMINAL tells the story of Viktor, a man from a tiny country somewhere near Russia whose government gets overthrown by a coup while he’s in the airplane flying to New York. When he lands in New York, his passport is no longer valid, his country no longer exists, and he is stuck in limbo.
The head of airport security, Frank Dixon, decides that Viktor can stay in the terminal until his status is resolved. Frank hopes that Viktor will try to escape, thus committing an illegal act so he can be sent to prison. Viktor, however, is patient and law-abiding and learns how to live in their terminal not just for days but for months. First, he figures out that he can collect the luggage carts and get 25 cents back for each one so he can buy food to eat; then he helps a young man who works in airline catering tell his deepest feelings to his beloved and, in return, receives food and drink; and, finally, he demonstrates a tremendous skill in carpentry and so is hired by a work crew.
In these and in many valiant and self-sacrificing ways, including standing up for a passenger who is bringing pharmaceutical drugs to his dying father, Viktor becomes a hero among the employees in the terminal, and not only copes but also triumphs in the face of adversity. He is willing to sacrifice himself for others, and, as a result, others are willing to sacrifice themselves for him.
Stanley Tucci plays a wonderful villain, Frank Dixon. He is extremely nuanced. He is a small-minded bureaucrat who wants to do the right thing but doesn’t have the compassion or wisdom to know what the right thing is. Tom Hanks is absolutely brilliant; his accent and persona are indescribably delightful. His acting must be seen to be believed. Catherine Zeta Jones starts off slowly but becomes a compelling love interest, a flight stewardess who unfortunately makes the wrong decisions about love and life.
Although this is not a big action-adventure fantasy, it is one of the best crafted movies ever and has something in it to appeal to everyone. The small cameo roles are terrific. The Indian exile is extremely amusing and droll. Stephen Spielberg has done a flawless job of directing – and, it is very rare for us to give that commendation.
Unexpectedly, the movie does not promote an open-border perspective toward illegal immigrants, although it does promote compassion. It definitely does have a slight socialist bent, because it has a slight sympathy for illegal immigrants and people look to government to solve their problems, yet it renders a positive portrait of America by showing a positive view of the people who are Americans.
Stephen Spielberg has walked a fine line here. He is to be highly commended. We hope that the Academy remembers this film for an Academy Award next winter. The only caution is some foul language, which is unnecessary, although some of it is amusing, since it is Viktor’s mispronunciation of some American words like “cheat”.
(CC, BB, So, LL, V, A, M) Christian worldview including prayer, making the sign of the Cross, lying rebuked, promiscuous sex rebuked, morality extolled, compassion extolled, and self-sacrifice demonstrated by several characters, with an anti-bureaucracy perspective and pro-immigrant perspective; five profanities, of which several are exclamatory, and 17 obscenities, of which many are the hero's mispronunciation of the word “cheat”; some slapstick violence with people falling on wet floors, and threat of violence when man holds knife to his own neck threatening suicide; a kiss and discussions of sex but nothing explicit; no nudity; light alcohol use; no smoking; and some pranks, illegal poker game, taking food from airline carts.
THE TERMINAL is an extremely witty movie that will make many laugh and cry. It explores the character of Viktor, a man from a tiny country somewhere near Russia that gets overthrown by a coup while he’s in the airplane. When he lands in New York, his passport is no longer valid, his country no longer exists, and he's stuck in limbo. The head of airport security decides that he can stay in the terminal until his status is resolved but hopes Viktor will escape, thus committing an illegal act so he can be sent to prison. Viktor, however, is patient and law-abiding and learns how to live in their terminal but for months. He becomes a hero among the airport employees.
Stanley Tucci plays a wonderful villain, and Tom Hanks is absolutely brilliant. His acting must be seen to be believed. Although this is not a big action-adventure fantasy, it is one of the best crafted movies and has something in it to appeal to everyone. Director Stephen Spielberg has done a flawless job, and it is very rare for us to give that commendation. He is to be highly commended.