If you’ve ever wondered what a mishmash between an overly stylised futuristic neo-noir which tries way too hard to be Blade Runner and a Guy Ritchie-esque cockney crime caper would look like, then look no further because Vaughn Stein’s debut feature Terminal ticks all of these boxes and more.
Starring Margot Robbie, in full Sin City garb and dodgy Cockney accent to boot, Terminal falls at the first hurdle by failing to bring any kind of coherence to a narrative which appears to favour style over substance throughout. All of which begs the question, how did a film like this get to the point of being made without anyone asking what the point of it was, or whether any of its incoherent mess of a screenplay made any sense at all to anyone.
In the heart of a once bustling and now fallen city, two hitmen played by Dexter Fletcher and Max Irons are holed up in a crumbling apartment awaiting their orders from the mob boss who hired them to take care of a mysterious mark. Meanwhile after being talked out of throwing himself under a train by an enigmatic station caretaker (Mike Myers), terminally-ill teacher Bill (Simon Pegg) finds himself cajoled by the beautiful and overly talkative Annie (Margot Robbie), who works as a waitress at an all night cafe. Both stories become intertwined when it transpires that there is more to Annie than meets the eye. Part-rime tripper and part-time advise giver, Annie soon catches the eyes of young hitman Alfred (Max Irons), and the two become lovers. The rest plays out as a confused and long-winded whodunnit, which culminates in ridiculously predictable denouement.
Robbie, whose own production company made it possible for the film to see the light of day, is unfortunately grossly let down by a story which seems unsure where it wants to go. Stein, who has worked on several big productions as third assistant director, is sadly unable to link all the strands of the story seamlessly, leaving it instead to the cast to try to salvage a semblance of coherence from this unholy mess.
While Terminal certainly presents more of confused and problematic storyline than a fully functioning narrative, it’s clear to see that all involved truly bought into the director’s vision from the get go, only to be let down by its hackneyed and unoriginal aesthetics. Terminal not so much as pays homage, but rather blatantly borrows from the films which have inspired it without bringing anything new or of any substance to the proceedings. Add to that its weirdly paced and confusing story telling techniques, and all we are left with is a kind of Frankenstein monster of a film which can’t quite decide which of its many influences it wants to be.