“Terminal” has a death sentence from the very beginning with a convoluted premise, unclear characters and motivations, and dialogue that is frequently indecipherable. This all-star cast of Margot Robbie, Simon Pegg, and Mike Myers who give it their all, can’t save the film from a cinematic graveyard. Vaughn Stein writes and directs this film as it meanders to hell and back and it’s not until the last 10 minutes of the movie that we receive all the missing pieces of information, making it feel more like a crash course in what just happened and why. Is this a poor choice in editing? Could they have intertwined more of the past into the present to give the viewer a more complete story? Yes. That certainly would have helped, but alas, the final product is lacking on all levels. The story never feels cohesive nor does it grab you as you invest your time in giving these actors the benefit of the doubt.
Annie (Robbie) is a late-night waitress at a diner who also happens to be a murderous sociopath. In an apparent effort to wipe out her hit-man competition to work for the esteemed leader, Mr. Franklin (Myers) who hides behind closed doors and uses a disguised voice, Annie’s heartless and cut-throat ways, sometimes literally, gets the job done. Moralistically, the hit men Annie meets are no better than she, but even on the spectrum of evil, she takes the cake. Bill (Pegg) is a hapless character and the only piece of the film that had any potential of a story line as a sad sack with a terminal illness and a wry sense of humor. As his conversation with Annie takes a quick dark turn, offering many ways for him to commit suicide, this is cut short and our attention is completely lost. Stein also attempts to weave “Alice in Wonderland” references into the story only to create another confusingly jarring element. Another unfortunate circumstance is the underutilization of Mike Meyers. The master of disguises is disguised to a degree that we miss out on any of his talent.
Of interest in the “Terminal” is the style. It’s dark to punctuate the topic and the situation, but interestingly, the intensity of the neon colors give it a flicker of fun. There are also numerous close-ups with intriguing backlighting, giving the film an eerie and surreal feel, however the cinematography can’t tell the story on its own.
“Terminal” is a disappointment given the acting talent available. With no characters with whom you can connect or care about and a story that meanders until it has to spoon feed you the plot and reasoning, “Terminal” should be put down and out of our misery.
1 Star for great lighting