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Hanks excellence doesn't extend throughout 'Terminal'
By Ron Wynn,
June 25, 2004
Tom Hanks has evolved into one of America's finest character actors, and any film with Steven Spielberg as director will be visually magnificent. But despite their mutual involvement, The Terminal isn't quite as triumphant as expected. Of course this might be unfairly making Hanks and Spielberg victims of their past successes, because there are many things about The Terminal that are quite commendable.

The story revolves around the misadventures of Viktor Navorski (Hanks), a passenger from the fictional land of Krakozia. Just as his plane touches down, there's a coup in his homeland that renders both his passport and visa worthless. With the country in turmoil, Navorski can't return, yet he also can't enter the United States without proper credentials. As a result, customs official Frank Dixon (Stanley Tucci) informs Navorski he's "free" to stay in the International Arrivals Lounge, but can't leave the airport.

From this point, Hanks' character shows some of the same resiliency and survival that was evident in Castaway, another film about a lost soul struggling to make the most of a bad situation. He discovers he can get money by returning luggage carts to racks and getting a refund. Smartly, Navorski doesn't try to leave his surroundings, instead making it as much a home as possible. He also begins learning English, progressing at a rather rapid rate for someone who knew almost no words before his plane landed.

Inevitably, Navorski begins encountering other individuals, particularly the flight attendant Amelia (Catherine Zeta-Jones), who's been unlucky in love and now seems content to continue an affair with a married man. These two eventually become drawn to each other, while Navorski also tries to help a food service employee (Diego Luna) in love with an INS official (Zoe Saldana).

The Terminal has plenty of charming moments, and good performances from Hanks, Tucci and Luna in particular. Zeta-Jones isn't quite as convincing, mainly because she's much better playing schemers and/or manipulative types than vulnerable, potential victims. Still, it is impossible not to root for the Hanks/Zeta-Jones relationship, and there's far more to enjoy rather than dislike about The Terminal. But there are also just a few too many pat situations and inconsistencies to consider this a great film.
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