Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Booking The Flight: The Script,
The Story; Waiting For The Flight: Building The Terminal; Boarding:
The People of The Terminal (Tom Hanks is Viktor/Catherine Zeta-Jones
is Amelia/Viktor's World); Take Off: Making The Terminal; In Flight
Service: The Music of The Terminal; Landing: Airport Stories;
THE dream team pairing of Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks checks
in with audiences for a third time, in this surprisingly intimate,
yet completely feel-good movie, inspired by a real-life person.
Hanks stars as Viktor Navorski, a visitor to New York City from
the mythical city of Krakozhia, in Eastern Europe, whose homeland
erupts in a fiery coup while he is en-route, thereby invalidating
his passport and visa, and preventing him from entering the United
Stranded at John F Kennedy International Airport, Viktor is forced
to improvise his days and nights in the terminal’s international
transit lounge, attempting to come to terms with a new culture
and language, and to make a life for himself until the war at
home is over.
Yet, as the days turn to months, Viktor finds himself becoming
an unlikely hero to the airport community, who warm to the generosity
and kindness of spirit he so frequently displays, while also embarking
on his own romantic relationship with a flight attendant, named
Amelia (played by Catherine Zeta-Jones).
Yet, while he proves an inspiration to the likes of baggage handler,
Joe Mulroy (Chi McBride), food service guy, Enrique Cruz (Diego
Luna), and janitor, Gupta Rajan (Kumar Pallana), his continued
presence becomes a thorn in the side of the airport's new security
chief, Frank Dixon (Stanley Tucci), who views Viktor as a potential
Hence, a battle of wits develops
between the two, with Dixon resorting to increasingly desperate
measures to rid himself of Viktor, without seeming to breach any
of the bureaucracy that continually inhibits him.
The character of Viktor is undoubtedly based on that of Merham
Nasseri, a homeless Iranian who has resided at Charles de Gaulle
airport, in Paris, for the past 16 years. But rather than opting
for a warts-and-all depiction of airport life, and the nightmare
of being stuck in a terminal, Spielberg has gone for a Capra-esque
tale of human spirit triumphing against the odds.
And while the story that ensues is as sweet as we have come to
expect from Spielberg, there is still plenty to admire in the
way the movie consistently manages to find new ways of entertaining,
while not always doing what is expected.
The much-touted romance between Hanks and Zeta-Jones, for instance,
is probably the weakest point, and their relationship fails to
convince, yet his interplay with most of the other airport dwellers
is both delicately and touchingly portrayed.
Pallana, of The Royal
Tenenbaums fame, is especially affecting, as an illegal immigrant,
who treats Viktor’s presence with increasing suspicion,
while Luna’s love-struck food service guy provides plenty
of comic interludes.
But it is Tucci’s bullish security chief who steals the
show, providing Hanks with a wonderful sparring partner throughout
Given that this is a Spielberg movie, there are also plenty of
subtle director’s touches to look out for, which recall
the gentle simplicity of some of his biggest movies (such as the
terrified look in Roy Scheider’s eyes, in Jaws, or the shaking
water, in Jurassic Park), making The Terminal a magical experience
for anyone prepared to take a heart-warming break from reality
for a while.
This is, at the end of the day, an absorbing character study,
with shades of Hanks’ equally mesmerising turn in CastAway,
that marks a welcome departure from the strains of everyday life.