Over the course of a deliberately convoluted timeframe, shady characters cross paths and double-cross one another in a neo-noir cityscape (think Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet meets a dystopian Alice in Wonderland). If this sounds cool, it is. If this sounds ridiculous, it’s that too. Terminal is complete nonsense but a roaring good time. The seedy dealings do not hold together on closer inspection, but this gritty neon world is tremendous fun.
Margot Robbie is playing a rather stereotypical (if unhinged) femme fatale, but her carefully crafted vocal and physical performance captivates. Simon Pegg, sporting sadness stubble, is unsettlingly understated. Max Irons and (especially) Dexter Fletcher make an amusingly antagonistic pair of crooks, and Mike Myers lends an off-kilter energy.
While the action clips along engagingly, some pacing issues dull the excitement. The score is largely the same tempo and volume throughout; when the final act changes its tune, the tension increases tenfold, and one wishes its pacing had been better utilised. Unfortunately-timed exposition also hampers a big reveal. Vaughn Stein, however, is adept at framing and lighting shots for blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moments – a key ingredient in the film’s pulpy fun.
The plot makes little sense, but what fun the twists and turns are. The dialogue and mise-en-scene often offer metatheatrical commentary, from the need for Hollywood hitman consultants to the theatrics of a shady deal. Sometimes these quips are tongue-in-cheek and therefore delightful, other times they feel too cynical for this world – this film doesn’t take itself seriously, so neither should its commentary.
Terminal is not the film of the year, or the summer, or for anyone who prefers substance over style. However, it’s a lot of fun and pretty gorgeous. If looking for an escapist film full of darkness, grime, and horrible people, this is a solid choice.
CAST: Margot Robbie, Simon Pegg, Max Irons, Dexter Fletcher, Mike Myers
DIRECTOR: Vaughn Stein
WRITER: Vaughn Stein
SYNOPSIS: A waitress with a double life, a teacher with dark secrets, and two belligerent hitmen cross paths and double cross each other in this neo-noir thriller.