The Terminal (2004) – Steven Spielberg

Hearing the name Tom Hanks in connection to a Steven Spielberg film is always a good thing for me, and I remember going to see 2004’s The Terminal in the theatre, and just delighting in the dramatic comedy the pair had come up with.

Hanks plays Viktor Navorski, a man who while in transit to the United States, becomes a man without a country due to a coup taking place. Consequently, he falls into the administrative cracks and is unable to leave JFK airport, which is overseen by Frank Dixon (Stanley Tucci).

Stuck in a no man’s land of a transit lounge, Viktor tries to find a way to survive until he can get that one stamp on his visa that will let him enter America. He fosters friendships with some of the airport’s employees, including Enrique (Diego Luna), Dolores (Zoe Saldana), Mulroy (Chi McBride) and Gupta (Kumar Pallana).

He loses his heart to a flight attendant, Amelia (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and tries to eke out an existence for himself as his fate hangs in the administrative cracks of world events.

Alternately delighting and heartbreaking, Hanks gives Viktor a soul, and as we learn partway through the film, a mission, a reason why he has to get to New York. There’s a very human story working throughout the film, making us realize how important people can be to one another, and how we connect and affect.

This film could have been a one-trick pony, and played out lots of humourous or heartbreaking vignettes and montages throughout, but Spielberg knows how to imbue magic to his films, Hanks is one of the best that has ever graced the screen, and he’s surrounded by an all-star cast, all set to a John Williams score.

What’s not to like?

The scary thing, watching this film now with all the issues and flight cancellations going on at our local airport makes this film all the more believable.

Still, we all want to believe that people are inherently good and that people like Viktor are out there, making things better for everyone, and in return, we work to make theirs better as well.

While not Spielberg’s best film, it is enjoyable, lighter fare, even as it makes a commentary on travelling, immigrants, and the blindness of administrations to human needs. And hello, Tom Hanks! He’s such a fantastic actor that he’s one of the only actors I will go to see in a film no matter what it is.

The Terminal also served as a bit of a rest, like Catch Me If You Can before it, to separate the bigger visual effects extravaganzas of Minority Report and War of the Worlds.

Man, I love me some Spielberg!


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