Today’s movie lovers live in a golden age whether they realize it or not. While the quality of what appears on screen is questionable at times, never before have there been more films being made or more different ways to see them. Classic movies, foreign works and other oddities are available through a variety of streaming services while cable systems offer video-on-demand selections, films that are generally not released in theaters but can be seen from the comfort of your home with a valid credit card and a click or two.
This arena has exploded within the last 10 years, offering a platform for movies that might not otherwise be seen or those dumped by studios that know they have a turkey on their hands and don’t want to shell out the cash for a traditional release, instead hoping to rope in a few unsuspecting souls who are tempted by a familiar name and have $6.99 to spare.
Margot Robie’s latest, Terminal, is such a film, a pretentious disaster that’s the epitome of style over substance, suffering from impressive delusions of grandeur. Confusing from the first frame to the last, Terminal proves to be nowhere near as smart as it thinks it is, wanting us to mistake poor screenwriting for depth laced with ambiguity.
Robie is Annie, a mysterious femme fatale who cuts a deal with an unseen someone to steal back lost power and influence from a collection of lowlifes. Chief among them are dying hit man Bill (Simon Pegg), mobster Illing (Nick Moran) and hustlers Lenny (Matthew Lewis) and Vince (Dexter Fletcher), all of whom are saddled with secretive baggage that will be revealed in good time. In order to get what she needs and to set these dolts at cross-purposes, Annie disguises herself as a stripper, waitress and a girl-about-town to lure each of them to their doom.
The members of this cast are all far too talented for a script such as this, authored by director Vaughn Stein, but at the very least, Robie seems to be having fun trying on these different dramatic hats. The same can’t be said for the viewer, as vagueness is the order of the day where the film’s characters and their intentions are concerned. What is supposed to be intriguing proves vexing as one unanswered question piles upon another, and the result is a growing sense of irritation instead of generating curiosity or suspense. I can say with no hesitation that I didn’t care for any of these characters or what happened to them, and the sooner I was out of their company, the better.
Many cigarettes are smoked sensuously amidst the shadowy haze Stein employs to create a film noir atmosphere. However, these effects are far too obvious, as is the purposely-twisted narrative and stylized performances. Instead of these genre elements seeming to grow naturally from the corrupt nature of the characters and setting, it all seems much too calculated, the result being a film that’s trying far too hard to be something it’s not. Terminal’s title is accurate, though as you’ll feel as if you’re slowly dying watching it, wasting 90 minutes of your life you’ll never get back.
Terminal is available through video-on-demand services.