A murder inside the Louvre and clues in Da Vinci paintings lead to the discovery of a religious mystery protected by a secret society for two thousand years -- which could shake the foundations of Christianity.
Viktor Navorski, a man from an Eastern European country arrives in New York. However after he left his country war broke out. Suddenly Navorski is a man without a country - or one that the U.S. cannot recognize, thus he is denied entrance to the U.S. However, he also can't be deported so he is told by the Security Manager that he has to remain in the airport until his status can be fixed. And also Navorski doesn't speak English very well, so he cannot talk to or understand anyone. But he somehow adapts and sets up residence in the airport, which makes the man who placed him there unhappy, as it seems he is in line for a promotion but Navroski's presence might complicate that. So he tries to get Navorski to leave but Navorski remains where he is. Navorski makes friends with some of the people who work in the airport and is attracted to a flight attendant he runs into whenever she comes in. Written by
'The Terminal' is the latest Hanks/Spielberg collaboration, and though it's not quite as good as 'Catch Me if You Can' or 'Saving Private Ryan' it still makes for a fun watch. The plot, as everyone already knows, is about Krakozhian (sp?) immigrant Victor Narvorski (Tom Hanks) whose home country the fictional land of Krakozhia (think Russia or Czechoslovakia) is torn apart in war while he is in a plane headed for New York. When he lands JFK airport head Frank Dixon (Stanley Tucci) tells him that since he literally doesn't have a country he must stay in the airport terminal until all the hoopla settles. Dixon thinks that Narvorski will ignore him, escape into New York and 'become someone else's problem'. What Dixon doesn't know is that Victor is an honest man, and he will obey the rules and stay in the terminal until he's allowed to leave.
The character of Victor Narvorski is one of those classic movie characters who has no conceivable flaw (other than a minimal understanding of the world around him and an accent) and dose everything he can to help everyone else. Similar characters that spring to mind are Peter Sellers' Chauncey Gardner from the 1979 satire 'Being There' and John Goodman's Charlie Meadows from the Coen movie 'Barton Fink'. All of these characters are dim-witted, but great people who put their own lives on hold to help their friends.
Some of these friends include Airport worker Enrique Cruz (Diego Luna), who Victor helps get hitched with a beautiful security guard (Zoë Saldana) and Amelia Warren (Catherine Zeta-Jones) a nice, flighty flight attendant who Narvorski inspires to get out of a troubled relationship with a married man.
The Hanks and Zeta-Jones characters strike up a little romance, but luckily its not too overblown, it's more of a subplot than anything.
It takes sometime but soon Narvorski is accepted into a small group of Airport workers including Cruz, kindly Joe Mulroy (Chi McBride) and janitor Gupta Raja (Kumar Pallana), who at first thinks that Narvorski is a federal agent out to get him. These characters are all well written and even better acted, but I thought they could've been awarded with a little more screen time. After all, the three are very good actors. But I guess Luna is still riding off the success of 'Y U Mama Tambien' and McBride, despite the fact that he's been working for many years, is still trying to find a big role that's right for him (which I doubt he'll get from 'I, Robot').
It's Pallana who has the biggest role here, and man, does he deserve it. Very old, and very foreign, he was brought to surprising cult fame when Wes Anderson gave him the role of 'Pagoda' in the 2001 hit 'The Royal Tenenbaums'. Who doesn't remember the short, quiet, hilarious butler of the Tenenbaum family? His role in this is a great follow-up; he is funny, and surprisingly touching and dramatic in a very tense scene near the end that I wont spoil. In any other movie the role of the Indian janitor would be an easy target, but this character isn't funny because he's Indian, but instead funny because he's clever, a little cynical and wily. He stole every scene he's in from under Tom Hanks, or Zeta-Jones, or whoever. This is a long shot, but I think the man deserves an Oscar nomination.
The acting in this movie is the greatest factor well, that and the huge Terminal set built only for the movie. Some critics are complaining about an underwritten and underused Catherine Zeta-Jones. Whatever. I call her under-necessary (Note: not UNnecessary, UNDER-necessary). I'm glad that her less-than-interesting character wasn't overused, I'm glad the movie wasn't turned into a straight-out romance.
The films deepest and most interesting character is Tucci's Dixon. On the surface he looks like your usual villain, but that's only to simpleton viewers who don't make any attempt to understand their movie characters. Dixon is not a villain. As it's established in the beginning, Dixon has been working the same job at the airport for seventeen years and wants desperately to climb up the latter. Because of this, he makes sure that he follows every single rule; he's the epitome of every by-the-book bureaucrat that we all love to hate. His motto is that in his work there're three important things, 'The person, the document and the story'. In the best scene of the movie Dixon refuses a Russian man to bring medicine to his dying father in Canada because he doesn't have the right form. This scene represents everything about the character of Dixon.
I was also interested in the relationship between Dixon and Narvorski. Dixon is at first refusing Narvorski because it's the rules, but as the film goes on and Dixon is further perplexed by Narvorski it stops being about rules and starts being about hatred and jealousy for Narvorski's joyful existence. He refuses to let Narvorski go to New York when he should be allowed to. In the film's most fulfilling scene Narvorski escapes and Dixon decides to give up chasing him, and you can see in his eyes that he's realized how ridiculous and stubborn he's been acting. This is Tucci's best performance. An Oscar for him, I say!
It is flawed, of course, in a few things. Narvorski's character is never developed, he stays the same person throughout the entire film, but that's fine, because Hanks keeps your interest and is at his most lovable. Also, the ending stretched on just a little bit if I had my way it would've ended with Dixon happily watching Narvorski escape in his cab, the rest could've just as easily been implied. I think the ending is a very important part of any film, and this one was in a way ruined.
But, no movie is perfect, and I have no problem accepting this as a lighthearted picture with a few interesting characters. Have fun. 7.5/10.
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