Imagine this. You fly into the United States from another country (for reasons I won’t mention). You get to the customs service at the airport, then you are led to the airport security office. A man working there tells you that you can’t go anywhere. There is a civil war in your home country just as you were landing, so you can’t go back. At the same time, your visa cannot be approved as long as the government in your country isn’t there, so you can’t enter America. You’re stuck in the airport, and you just have to wait.
Just about anyone would be distressed in this situation, especially in this post-9/11 world. Not Victor Navorski, played by Tom Hanks. This is a man who seems so passive about it, but only because his English isn’t good enough to understand what’s happening. He is such a lovable character because of this. Unlike most people, he doesn’t care what is happening. He is smiling with optimism no matter how bad things get. He also has a way of adapting to his surroundings.
Well, okay. He does panic at first because he doesn’t know how to use a calling card to phone home. He also does not understand any word in the CNN news ticker except the name of his country. He even loses his meal vouchers by accident to a janitor who sweeps them up as trash. But no problem. He cleverly gets money from returning people’s luggage carts to the machines where they came from. He turns an unoperating section of the airport into a home. At this point, who cares about leaving the airport?
Victor makes plenty of friends along the way. Besides the janitor, there is the customs officer to whom Victor tries to submit a visa approval form every day, the cafeteria worker who is in love with the officer, and Catherine Zeta-Jones as the beautiful flight attendant Amelia. What you have here is a film about a character meeting people. The airport serves as a backdrop as well as a microcosm of the world around us, where people of all walks of life are constantly on the go and you never know whom you’ll run into.
Overall, the story is very charming and so is its main character. Tom Hanks is the reason this film works. He does a good job playing a gentle, humble man and the foreign accent is a very nice touch. Steven Spielberg as the director proves that he can direct any film. It could be something exciting like Raiders of the Lost Ark or it could be something as simple and down to earth like The Terminal. But of course, everyone else involve deserves as much credit.
The Terminal certainly makes you look differently at going to the airport. The next time you are arriving, departing, or waiting, make a friend or two. If Victor Navorski can do it, why not?
Anthony’s Rating: 7/10