film & tv
Thursday, 2nd September 2004
The Terminal (12A)
Tom Hanks and Catherine Zeta-Jones in The Terminal
Tom Hanks, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Chi McBride, Stanley Tucci, Zoe Saldana, Diego Luna, Eddie Jones, Barry Shabaka Henley, Kumar Pallana.
JOHN F Kennedy International Airport is a microcosm of the globe: people of all nationalities, races, religions and classes crossing paths in a maze of shops, restaurants and offices. There are laughter and tears, frustration and anger, fond farewells and excited reunions.
Into this vast, bustling melting pot steps Viktor Navorski (Hanks), a traveller from the fictitious Eastern European country of Krakozhia who arrives on American soil just as his homeland erupts in a bloody coup.
Viktor is denied entry to the country because he literally has a passport from nowhere – his homeland is no longer recognised by the US government.
Stranded in the terminal’s international transit lounge, unable to enter or leave the country, Viktor fills his days by befriending the various members of staff, including baggage handler Joe Mulroy (McBride), food service worker Enrique Cruz (Luna) and cranky janitor Gupta (Pallana).
Viktor also becomes a firm favourite with US Customs and Immigrations officers Ray Thurman (Henley) and Dolores Torres (Saldana), who sympathise with the traveller’s plight. A pretty United Airlines flight attendant named Amelia (Zeta-Jones), whose love-life is in permanent free-fall, also catches Viktor’s eye.
Unfortunately, he quickly makes an enemy in airport official Frank Dixon (Tucci) who will do anything to get rid of Viktor – the sooner, the better.
When Viktor’s continued presence in the terminal threatens Frank’s high profile promotion, the official takes extreme measures to eradicate the “bureaucratic glitch”.
The Terminal is a sweetly affecting slice of life, inspired by on the true story of Iranian political refugee Merhan Karimi Nasseri, who has been living in Paris Roissy Charles de Gaulle Airport since 1988.
Hanks portrays another likeable everyman whose old-fashioned decency, innocence and generosity towards total strangers endears him to everyone he meets.
Zeta-Jones is disappointing but Tucci is an interesting villain who falls victim to red tape and ultimately has no choice but to declare war on Viktor.
Supporting cast provide much of the romance and laughs, particularly Pallana’s cleaner who polishes the floor so that passengers will slip over and deflects all of Viktor’s questions with “Do you have an appointment?”
Some of the screenplay’s logic is rather strained (such as Viktor’s self-education in English) and the romance between Viktor and Amelia barely smoulders.
This is Spielberg at his most sentimental – if you don’t have a sweet tooth then don’t bother touching down with The Terminal.
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