Margot Robbie and Mike Myers go Film Noir in ‘Terminal’
by Nile Fortner
Terminal stars Margot Robbie who is fresh off of the Academy Award-winning film I, Tonya, and is a stylish film focusing on the intertwining of characters and stories. The movie follows the intertwining of assassins, a fatally-ill teacher, a janitor, and a waitress whom all have an agenda of a murderous plan. Robbie kills people in a very stylish way and wears incredibly nice clothes, kills people, and looks damn fine doing it.
Terminal is a modern day tale of a noir story and it certainly plays out like a noir flick from the early 1940’s and 1950’s. It’s a crime drama with low-key lighting to create mystery and the visual approach is one of my favorite things about this film.
The visuals and the overall noir style are a real standout for the film and director Vaughn Stein, whose work includes being assistant director on films like World War Z, The Danish Girl, and Beauty and the Beast, just to name a few. It is one of the most visually pleasing films I’ve seen this year, and it’s visual eye candy that I couldn’t get enough of.
I really get a kick out of the camera angles as well. The camera creates gorgeous cinematography and captures the noir flicks from back in the day. Audiences get some bold shots playing with shadows and well-done Dutch and wide-angle shots. Christopher Ross, whose work includes Black Sea, did an exceptional job of mixing vibrant colors bouncing around off dark alleyways and streets. It’s slick, great usage of lens flares, the cinematography is smooth as ice, and the strikingly sexy visuals are the real show-stealer.
While watching this and being amazed by the visuals, I couldn’t help think of Atomic Blonde and Blade Runner 2049 because the film has similar lighting to those films. It mostly reminds me of Blade Runner because of all the shimmering neon lights. You get a dark gritty film noir, but in this dark and gritty world, you get reds, blues, yellows, greens, and pinks.
Robbie, who also co-produced the movie, gets to show off some sexy ‘n stylish wardrobe while showing audiences how much range she has as an actress. Robbie’s character, Annie, is a waitress who’s out for revenge and willing to kill. In a movie like this, her character may seem badass and empowering, but something about Robbie’s performance made me once again think of Charlize Theron in Atomic Blonde.
Robbie is almost scary and a little robotic, which makes her just seem that much more eerie and demented. Robbie and Simon Pegg have some of the best on-screen chemistry and Pegg is great as a scruffy beard, suicidal, smoking professor. Pegg has shown that he has range as an actor; however, I feel that the film could have gotten more out of his character. Pegg’s talents feel a little underused and audiences could have gotten more out of the angry physically-ill professor.
In addition, the dialogue is cringe-worthy at times. They do not feel like real conversations, their way over the top, and certain characters, like Robbie’s Annie, feel cartoonish. I do like Robbie and she does show range as an actor. On the other hand, the plot of this film feels so scattered that I found it hard to connect the pieces of why one scene Robbie’s character is a waitress, the next she is a pole dancer, and then a hired killer. This makes our main character confusing, her traits don’t connect, and it shows writing that could have been far more superior.
Style Over Substance?
Mike Myers, whose last film I believe was Inglorious Basterds, does his best with the material, however, it feels like an awkward cameo and it comes off as comedic. Myers is in make-up, and to quote Tropic Thunder it comes off as a “Dude, playing a dude, disguised as another dude.” By this I mean, it very much feels as if this would be a character from the Austin Powers movies or a Saturday Night Live sketch.
My biggest issue with this film is that it puts style over substance. It’s a glorious looking film, but while watching this you cannot help seeing all the movies it’s gaining inspiration from. Earlier I mentioned, Atomic Blonde and Blade Runner, but the film is also trying to be John Wick, Sin City, and even has Quentin Tarantino likeness throughout the entire movie.
This plot feels like a Tarantino film with intertwining stories to characters all having the intent to kill other characters. It’s as if Tarantino saw Blade Runner and gave that style to Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, and The Hateful Eight. This may sound like a neat style choice on paper, but this made the most important element, the actual story hard to follow and hard for audiences to follow certain characters. Characters don’t get enough screen time, lack of character development, and the muddled story is all over the place.
I’m all for filmmakers and artists being inspired, but the inspiration should not feel like the same exact thing, or even worse a rip-off. This film feels like it is ripping off all these other films and as if it does not carry that much originality.
This movie is all over the map, it has an amazing cast, and it really is a beautiful looking movie. On the other hand, the story and writing are terrible. It really is a case of style over substance. I don’t know exactly what the movie is trying to accomplish in tone and the twist at the end with Mike Myers left me scratching my head while being let down. The movie isn’t dull, but the story is the worst part of this film, which for a film is inexcusable.
I am giving Terminal a 2.5 out of 5 Hairpieces!