Terminal is now available digitally and On Demand.
Mike Myers is in a movie in 2018. I repeat: Mike Myers is in a movie in 2018. And it’s not a Shrek movie! It’s a live-action neon-lit noir thriller about assassins, a suicidal English teacher, a waitress, and a criminal mastermind that’s been released direct-to-video because, let’s face it: this movie wouldn’t have made money in theaters. I don’t think it’s bad, but it is preposterous, stylish, and different, and that can be a tough theatrical sell. One can only hope it can find its audience on-demand.
I don’t know if the plot matters. It exists mostly as a reason for Margot Robbie to have engaging conversations with several of her co-stars, sprinkling in just a touch of nihilistic and anarchistic insanity in order to keep us interested—or confused. She plays Annie, a waitress who moonlights as a stripper. The aforementioned assassins are Vince (Dexter Fletcher) and Alfred (Max Irons), who bicker like they’re Vincent and Jules and sometimes bump into Annie at both places of her employment. The latter also falls in love. Annie also has a lengthy philosophical conversation with Bill (Simon Pegg), an English teacher who has an illness he thinks will kill him.
How these all intertwine is not something I will spoil, but this is the kind of movie where everyone has ulterior motives, there are lots of chances for double-crossing, and even when you think you’ve got it all figured out, you probably don’t. It has several twists and turns and while some of them are relatively obvious, there are at least a couple that might surprise. And, like the best of them, they make you want to go back and rewatch earlier scenes to see if you missed clues hinting at their existence.
And what of Myers, making his first live-action film appearance since 2009? He plays a limping, disfigured janitor of a train station, an innocuous role but a welcome addition to the cast. It highlights Myers’ strengths as a character actor without relying on him to carry much of the picture. That falls to the likes of Robbie and Pegg, whose scenes crackle—especially when both of them are on the screen together.
The whole production has a neon-noir style to it—it looks like if Blade Runner had been directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. It always has something for you to look at, is the point, and while it may at times be a case of style over substance, I think most of the conversations—window-dressing for the characters as they may be—are interesting and smart enough for the audience to remain engaged. Do they matter to the people saying them? Not really, but if they make us think then they’re not meaningless.
Terminal is a pulpy noir thriller that has a preposterous plot, philosophical conversations, a lot of references to Alice in Wonderland, and stylish visuals from which it’s nearly impossible to look away. Sometimes, a movie that looks this good and tells a story this outrageous—weird and fascinating, but ultimately laughably silly—is worth checking out. Terminal is one of those films.
I give Terminal a B-.