Terminal

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Terminal Movie Poster Image
Stylish but violent, empty attempt at a modern film noir.
  • NR
  • 2018
  • 95 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Revenge is the name of the game here, as cold and as brutal as possible, with all kinds of trickery, deception. No clearly admirable themes, no lessons learned, with possible exception of dying as a result of loathsome behavior.

Positive Role Models & Representations

None of the characters is in any way redeemable, and they're all quite nasty in their own ways.

Violence

Guns and shooting, blood spurt. Bloody operation scene. Characters die. Knives. A man is strangled. Reference to rape. Long discussion about suicide and different ways to die. Stabbing with pen. A character is said to be a pedophile. House burning.

Sex

Kissing. Strong innuendo/sex talk. Scene in a "gentleman's club" includes women dancing in skimpy clothing. References to "lap dance," "hand job," etc.

Language

Several uses of "f---ing," plus "s--t," "t-ts," "twat," "bastard," "bitch," "hell," "d--k," "balls," "piss," "prat," "moron," and "Jesus" and "Jesus Christ" (as exclamations).

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Smoking. Drinking vodka. Reference to laudanum. Booze bottle shown. Bong shown.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Terminal is a sort of futuristic film noir starring Margot Robbie. Expect strong violence, including guns and shooting (with blood), deaths, a gory surgery scene, knives, stabbing with a pen, strangling, and references to rape, suicide, and pedophilia. Characters kiss, and there's heavy sex talk/sexual innuendo. A sequence set in a gentlemen's club features scantily clad dancing women. There's no nudity, but you will hear references to "lap dance," "hand job," etc. Language includes several uses of "f--k" and "s--t," plus many other words. Characters occasionally smoke and drink in a background way; a bong is also shown, and laudanum is referenced. Robbie plays a savvy femme fatale, and her fans may have fun, but overall the movie is more style than story or character.

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What's the story?

In TERMINAL, several lost souls occupy a sprawling, shadowy train station at night in an unnamed city. Annie (Margot Robbie) works at an all-night cafe in one of the station's darkest corners. A teacher, Bill (Simon Pegg), seems to have lost his lease on life and is just killing time. Two hit men, Vince (Dexter Fletcher) and Alf (Max Irons), await a call -- and a job -- from the mysterious "Mr. Franklyn." And a janitor (Mike Myers) is forever puttering around. During the nighttime hours, Annie befriends young Alf and shows disgust for the older, harder Vince. She also learns that Bill is terminally ill and tries to get him to kill himself rather than mope around. Soon it becomes apparent that not everything is as it seems, and a sinister plot is under way.

Is it any good?

This modern film noir looks great, all shadows and neon lights, but the characters are shallow and all too obvious; even the twisty story feels routine. Crafted in the Pulp Fiction/Usual Suspects mold, Terminal marks the feature debut of writer/director Vaughn Stein. The movie's setting is inspired, generating an almost entirely artificial world devoid of daylight and using deep spaces to ominous effect. And Robbie is easily the best thing in the movie -- both smart and wicked, she uses her powerful allure to steal scene after scene. If the character were more nuanced, she could have been one of the great femmes fatales.

Alas, other actors don't seem quite as comfortable. The normally warm, funny Pegg seems wasted playing such a forlorn character, and Myers -- in his first live-action movie role in nearly a decade -- is all crazy makeup, fake accent, and fake limp. Fletcher provides some nasty fun in a role that's not too far away from the one he played in Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, and Irons is a good foil for him. The problem is that Terminal seems too aware of its own cleverness. Its attempts to hide clues are a little labored, and then the final reveal comes totally out of left field, rather than from within the fabric of the story. With a little less style and a little more story, it could have been a solid crime thriller.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Terminal's violence. How much is shown, and how much is implied? How intense is it overall? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • How does the movie depict sex? Is it about love? Trust? Power? Does Annie use her sex appeal to get what she wants? Is she a powerful character?

  • How is smoking depicted? Does it look cool? Are there consequences? Why does that matter?

  • What's the appeal of stories about revenge? Does revenge solve anything?

  • What does "film noir" mean? How is the genre relevant today?

Movie details

For kids who love thrills

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