The Terminal (2004)

Steven Spielberg directs Tom Hanks, Stanley Tucci and Catherine Zeta-Jones in this serious comedy springboarding off from the true story of a man forced to live in an airport when his passport was no longer internationally recognised.

Hmmm… joins Hook in being a very rare duff one from the Hollywood wunderkind. You can sense Spielberg’s totalitarian delight in replicating a lifesize, living, breathing airport terminal – a playset of brand placement and vertiginous camera moves. Balletic cinematography has never been a friend to nimble humour. The script displays the ambition of a Billy Wilder-esque bittersweet bite. It just doesn’t take shape or sharpen into a defined motion. The bureaucratic antagonist seems weak willed, the romantic subplot feels superfluous and the comedy, while graceful, lacks killer laughs. The project has a good hook but no narrative. Hanks does nice work but hardly convinces as an alien. You yearn for him to give up on the fantasy accent and tell us “There’s no crying in baseball”. Now, on that thought, here’s another; Wouldn’t Arnold Schwarzenegger have been a far more fascinating casting choice?…

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