Terminal (2018) is probably a consequence of the success of great films like Drive (2011) and The Neon Demon (2016) by Nicholas Winding Refn, not to mention Reservoir Dogs (1992) and Pulp Fiction (1994), but British style à la Guy Ritchie (in fact, two actors in the movie, Dexter Fletcher and Nick Moran, were also in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, 1998).
What do I mean by this? Terminal is a thriller in which criminals talk a lot, often about nothing, the narration is non-linear, everything is illuminated by neon lights, and over the top acting performances and weird camera shots abound (the movie is full of Dutch angles and fish eyes). There’s a problem: all these elements are thrown in a mix without any reason whatsoever. As a result, none of it raises the quality of a film which is clunky, boring, with a weak script, and with forgettable characters.
It’s a shame because the movie features Margot Robbie (sometimes scantily dressed), Simon Pegg (in a completely useless role, practically his presence only serves to reach 90 minutes in duration), and even Mike Myers! And let’s not talk about the final plot twist which is more than predictable (I’m talking about the twist à la The Usual Suspects, 1995, not the other one of the twin sister that goes far beyond the limit of ridicule).
The film, written and directed by Vaughn Stein, has absolutely no personality (the many references to Lewis Carroll aren’t enough to give it one), the dialogues fall flat and don’t help the poor actors in the least, the soundtrack is irritating, and the direction and editing are clueless (Stein, on his first film as a director, had been first, second or third assistant director in a few films of varying quality).
Something works, but very little. For example, Matthew Lewis (Neville from Harry Potter!) and Thomas Turgoose (This Is England, 2006) are funny as aspiring criminals. And Pegg’s scenes with the doctor or in the confessional are OK, but even those are nothing special and seem to be taken out of a bad Marvel movie rather than from the movies I mentioned at the beginning of this post. When the plot of the film becomes clear in the finale, it also becomes clear that the viewer has wasted an hour and a half on a story that could’ve been told in a twenty-minute short film.
If you want to watch a badly made, badly written and badly shot noir film (or neo-noir, or rather neon-noir), Terminal is for you. If you want to see something derived from Tarantino and Refn, but done well, check out Bad Times at El Royale (2018). Ciao!