Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Premise: Tom Hanks plays Viktor Navorski, an Eastern immigrant caught in a loophole that keeps him from returning to his country or entering the United States. As a result, Navorski becomes a resident of the airport for about a year.
What Works: At the core this is a survival story (shades of Castaway?) This film is at its best showing how Navorski must adapt to his environment. There is a subtle political commentary on immigration and the Department of Homeland Security and how people in those positions can make life difficult for others, especially immigrants. The rivalry between Navorski and Frank Dixon (Stanley Tucci) is a lot of fun to watch.
What Doesn’t: The love story between Navorski and Amelia (Catherine Zeta-Jones) never really goes anywhere. Acting is not the problem here; the film features some of the strongest acting for Zeta-Jones in quite awhile, but the script does not really allow this relationship to go anywhere or come to any sort of conclusion.
Bottom Line: The Terminal‘s laughs work best and it plays to this strength. This is the closest to an outright comedy that Spielberg has done since 1941 and this film is a success where 1941 failed. The film explores the stranger-in-strange land element and plays it for laughs. Although Hanks has never played an immigrant, he is still playing the same kind of likeable everyman character that has become his bread and butter. This is a good film and comes recommended to Spielberg fans, especially those who liked Catch Me if You Can.
Episode: #7 (June 28, 2004)