Little Box of Horrors: Terminal
Terminal throws a bunch of inspirations in a blender, sets it to repulse, then expects you to lap it up. Good acting can’t save bad writing, and in this case it shouldn’t even have tried.
Last month, we gorged on leftovers, movies that we had wanted to see, but just failed to get around to. Well, Thanksgiving is well past us and the leftovers have gone a bit rancid. With this in mind, I decided to pick from the garbage we steered clear of this year. Bring your Pepto Bismol, this could get a bit nauseating!
- Gotti (2018): This movie wins the award for garbage movie that MoviePass would not shut the hell up about. Sorry boys, but showing me the trailer for this dreck a million times didn’t get me curious. Now if the plot was that Gotti was actually an alien from the Church of Scientology….
- Terminal (2018): I want desperately to believe that Margot Robbie can act. Hell, I’m chomping at the bit to see Mary, Queen of Scots on that premise alone. Something tells me this film is not going to be the corroboration I’m looking for.
- Winchester (2018): This film tickled my spider-senses, and by that I mean my sense that this Helen Mirren starring horror movie was going to be a glorious travesty. Critical consensus is that it was more horrible than horrific; and most damning of all, that it was boring. Gotta get that sense tuned up one of these days….
This one was one of the closest races I’ve seen in a while. Helen Mirren and Margot Robbie were racing neck and neck (leaving John Travolta behind in a laughable cloud of dust). I broke the tie based on the sheer amount of talent collected in Terminal, which led me to hope that quantity could somehow yield quality. Let’s see how I fared.
Annie (Margot Robbie) is an up-and-coming killer with quite a few bones to pick. After making a bet with the current #1 hired gun, she sets about thinning the competition. But our mysterious #1 always has Annie in his sights. Can she turn the tables? And will we care if she does?
Praying to Gaudy
Terminal wants desperately to be slick and stylish, in both it’s ambiance and it’s dialogue. Instead, the veneer of cool is thin and tacky. The film borrows heavily from the likes of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriquez, but doesn’t have the wit or charm to pull off that kind of style. It wants to have the quippy, gritty, and cool dialogue you get in something like Resevoir Dogs or Pulp fiction, but comes across as second rate and crude. It likewise wants to look like some mash-up of Sin City and Suicide Squad, but comes off as garish and empty.
Tarantino (or his British equivalent Guy Ritchie) style dialogue requires the dialogue to be either kitschy or charming, as it is usually being delivered by reprobates. Terminal misses that mark, and usually comes across as assholes speaking asshole-ese to each other. A few bits of banter between Simon Pegg and Robbie rise above this, and Max Irons does his damndest to bring some charm to the affair, but it’s too little to leaven the grim bread on display here.
Visually, the city just sits there, a neon wasteland. We don’t get a name, or a date, or a real sense of place for this carnal city. The only clue is that most of it’s residents speak the Queen’s English, but that makes things even more confusing. Is this the future? Some kind of dystopia? Writer/Director Vaughn Stein can’t be bothered to expand on anything, and as a result I can’t be bothered to care. I don’t know how some random killer got the entire city wired up with cameras, and why everything looks like a millennial’s idea of what 70’s Las Vegas must have looked like.
Speaking of cameras….
Not a whole lot of this movie makes any goddamn sense. Annie’s ace in the hole as a killer is that she is actually a twin, able to be one step ahead of the spider due to being in two places at once. A special trick that should have easily been neutered by the head honcho’s omni-presence via video surveillance. Dude didn’t even notice once that Annie was both in a diner and a strip club at the same time? Puh-lease.
It’s once again a glaring example of Terminal being all style and no substance. It can’t look the part, talk the part, or even generate twists that make any sense. Robbie, Pegg, and Irons all are wasted trying to inject some presence into this film (although Robbie is basically just playing Harley Quinn x2), but the script cuts them off at the knees constantly. Mike Myers was probably thinking that playing a villain might inject some life into his career, but at the end of the day, he’s just the “obviously wearing prosthetics” guy that he’s always been.
All that’s left is a mean movie about bad people doing bad things to each other… for reasons. The violence isn’t all that cool, and the final scene was trying to be wayyyyy too edgy. It ended up being like everything else: shallow, violent, nonsense.
Crappy New Years!
Well, Terminal left me with a terminal case of the yawns, but 2019 can’t possibly be as awful as 2018, right? Right?!? Have a Happy New Year, gentle reader, and I’ll be back on the trail sometime this January!