Revenge Never Looked So Good: Terminal Review

In another time, and another place, this stylish noir thriller follows the twisting tales of two assassins (Max Irons & Dexter Fletcher) carrying out a sinister mission, a teacher (Simon Pegg) battling a fatal illness, a simple janitor (Mike Myers) and a curious waitress (Margot Robbie) leading a dangerous double life. Murderous consequences unravel in the dead of night (we never see any sunshine in this film) as their lives all intertwine at the hands of a mysterious criminal mastermind hell-bent on revenge.

Terminal opens with Margot Robbie as Annie who meets with a priest that will lead to a number of assassinations and overly complicated double crosses which is unbeknownst to the audience before the story uncovers itself layer by layer. We see Simon Pegg mulling around the terminal waiting for a train that will never come, he’s told to go to the ”End of the line” diner where he meets the chatty, charming Annie. The two of them start a conversation discussing life and death. We also cut between the two assassins who are being recruited for a job, with the younger man falling for Annie. The men turn on each other, as Annie plays mind games with them.

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My main issue with the film is its non-linear narrative, Terminal is mainly relegated to two separate narratives that never quite connect with one and another as a whole, briefly the stories meet up but then they quickly go their separate ways. What is even worse is those two separate entities entitle to slow down the front gear with the misdirection of irrelevant conversations and plot twists however, they later on become somewhat important for the twists at the end gear that the audience could never see beforehand.  The first twenty-five minutes are confusing and a bit of a mess, but things do improve and if you can commit to those first twenty-five minutes then the pay off ins rewarding. The dialogue is a little clichéd and seems a bit too comic book like, but still Robbie delivers them with glee.

This is Robbie’s movie, and she really is the best part of this film. Robbie serves as the personification of what we imagine a femme fatale would be, smirking and strutting her stuff, although it is a shame to see her reduce to being just an object of the male gaze in some scenes and I found that very distracting. Robbie does well with the script, but other performers such as Pegg and Fletcher seems to be sleepwalker through the film, and its clear that they’re here to pick up the pay check. And, it’s always good to see Mike Myers on the screen even if this is a small supporting role, but keep an eye on his character because all is not what it seems here…

The stylish action packed trailers and neon-lighted posters tried to present this as a straightforward revenge story,  but in fact it’s just a hyperactive movie with mesmerizing colors and sparkling environments igniting the dark empty world of crime. In ways it reminded me of Walter Hill’s The Warriors or Streets of Fire, but it’s just not fun enough or enjoyable like Hill’s work. Visually it’s one of the more attractive and colourful films I have seen this year, but this is a typical case of all style, and no substance. Still, I applaud director’s Vaughn Stein vision and it’s apparent that he has his own auteur style which is something rare these days. Terminal is not a disaster, and it’s worth watching for its stunning mise-en-scene and its strong performance from Margot Robbie, it’s just a shame that there’s not more depth here.

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