Monday, January 16, 2017

The Terminal (2004)

Note  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

Tom Hanks plays Viktor Navorski. Viktor Navorski is a man without a country. He’s en route to New York City when his country’s government is overthrown. With no officially recognized country, Viktor has no legitimate passport. That’s when Viktor meets Frank Dixon. Dixon is a bureaucrat who’s on the verge of being promoted. With this promotion comes a lot of power. Dixon doesn’t want this promotion to get screwed up. Thus, Dixon has to play by the rules. Dixon also realizes that he has a problem, and that problem is named Viktor Navorski.

According to the rules, Viktor is to stay in the airport. He can’t legally go into New York City. Dixon gives Viktor some food vouchers and tells Viktor to figure something out. Viktor soon realizes that he’s going to be in for a long stay. He loses his food vouchers, but finds possible salvation in those push carts that most airports have. He can return three carts and get three quarters, which is enough for a Burger King hamburger. (Anyone who’s ever had to buy food at an airport knows that this is a bargain.) Pretty soon, Viktor is racking up the quarters, which prompts Dixon to create a special position within the airport to stop Viktor from getting those precious quarters. So begins Dixon’s war.

Navorski’s English is very limited, but he’s a quick study. He tries to apply to several of the stores within the airport, but to no avail. On a whim, he fixes up a wall in a closed-off area of the airport. This catches the attention of the crew that’s repairing that section of the airport. Not only does Viktor get a job, he gets a job that pays more that Dixon earns.

There are several other side stories. Catherine Zeta-Jones plays Amelia, a flight attendant who has a boyfriend who’s married to another woman. She knows it’s wrong (and even encourages him to stay with his wife) but just can’t tear herself away from him. She and Viktor manage to hit it off and Viktor tries to get a relationship going, but she has some very serious trust issues.

There’s also Gupta, a janitor who takes amusement in watching people slip on a wet floor. The reason it’s so amusing is that he has several of those big yellow signs very visibly positioned around the recently mopped area. People are usually too careless about their surroundings to take notice of something that obvious.

The most interesting story is the story of why Viktor is there. All anyone knows is that he carries this Planter’s Peanuts container. At first, no one asks what the container contains. Eventually, Amelia takes the initiative. Viktor reveals that his father was trying to gather signatures. I don’t recall the reason whole story behind it, but it has to do with a group of jazz musicians. It was very important to Viktor’s father. He managed to get all but one of the signatures.

Viktor is in New York City trying to get that one last signature. That’s why it’s so important that Viktor also play by the rules. Dixon wants Viktor to leave figuring that Viktor will become someone else’s problem. If Viktor is caught, he becomes the problem of the federal government. If Viktor is not caught, then he simply wanders NYC like any other undocumented immigrant. Little does Dixon know that Viktor wants to return home, even if it means waiting the nine months that Viktor eventually has to stay.

WARNING: Anyone who doesn’t want to know how the movie ends should stop here. If you continue, don’t blame me for ruining the movie for you. You were warned.

Amelia gets Viktor a one-day visa so that he can go to where the remaining musician is. Unfortunately, things don’t work out between them. She goes back to her married boyfriend. However, Viktor does get his autograph. Upon entering a cab, he tells the driver that he’s going home.


I didn’t feel like there was any sense of completion with the story. (At least not in the sense that I would have expected.) It seemed like a short story that was interrupted and put on hold for nine months. It was absolutely not what I expected, but that’s not to say that the movie was bad. Viktor was a man that had everything taken away from him and Tom Hanks was able to portray him in such a way that I could say that I would have done the same thing in his position. (Several other people also told me that I probably would have done the same thing.)

There’s a lot of product placement. Notice the prominent use of Burger King that I mentioned before. Those that are observant will also notice Starbucks and Baja Fresh. (For those that don’t know, Baja Fresh is a fast-food restaurant that sells tacos. I’ll be writing a review of it shortly. I’ll be placing links for Starbucks and Burger King below.) It wasn’t too distracting and in some cases, such as Viktor’s job search, can be excused.

The movie was definitely different. I wish that there were more movies like this one. There were no amazing action scenes. The movie didn’t try to awe people with its amazing special effects. So there was some slapstick here and there, but the bulk of the movie was driven by the story. Fortunately, it had a very good story.

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