Amelia: Are you coming or going?
Viktor Navorski: I don’t know. Both.
Barry Shabaka Henley
Welcome to the confined spaces of the International Transit Lounge. How long do you plan on staying?
For Viktor Navorski it turns out to be a lot longer than anyone could have expected. Navorski is a resident of “Krakozhia” a fictional European nation. The movie wastes no time exposing the central location of the movie, JFK airport and it’s large international terminal. Viktor lands at JFK and is excited as ever to get the full NYC experience. As he tries to clear customs he runs into one of the most unique snags you will hear about involving a foreign visitor.
While Viktor was comfortably on his flight from Krakozhia to New York City, a military coup took place on Krakozhian soil making his visit a very complicated one based on domestic policy in the United States. Because his country is involved in war he is technically a citizen of nowhere. As he repeatedly says in the film he is “unacceptable…” making him inelgible to step out on US soil. What does that mean for Viktor? Well as you would assume the International Terminal becomes his new home until Uncle Sam can sort out the crack that Viktor has found himself in. All this is explained by Frank Dixon the chief operator at JFK airport. Frank takes the situation extremely lightly to start because he think that all this will be sorted out within the next few hours and both can move on with there lives. The interaction between these two characters over time is cinematic gold. Frank fails to realize that Viktor is an honest man who will follow the rules of staying in the Terminal for as long as he needs to. For Frank it’s perplexing why this man won’t break the law and just step out into NYC. You can imagine the resistance Viktor must face, and the patience he possess.
Viktor finds ways to survive while Frank tries eliminate those strategies so Viktor can get out of his hair. A cat and mouse game leads to a wonderful story that involves romance, friendship, and trust from a group of people who spend so much time in the terminal. You have to remember that terminals now days are like shopping malls. Stores open early and close late so frequent fliers can stay entertained in the spaces between flights. For Viktor finding a job is not possible, he has no social security or any reason for existence, he is simply “unacceptable.”
The friends he finds along the way, and the methods used for survival is what makes this story so lovely to watch. I mean really how entertained can we be as an audience, when the story is about a man and a terminal? You would be surprised. Through all the adventures that ensue in this one location, you forget to ask yourself why Viktor is in NYC in the first place!
What makes this movie so interesting you ask? Well who can captivate a screen better than Tom Hanks! One of my favorite duos in the film industry is Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. Out of all the movies they have worked together in this one is the most underrated project I have seen. It involves emotion, comedy, and honesty. At the end of it all Viktor Navorksi becomes a person you wish more people were like in this world.
Similar to Cast Away Tom Hanks owns the screen and location throughout this film. It’s a brilliant role and a very underrated one. When most people talk Hanks they remember Saving Private Ryan, Big, Catch Me If You Can, and while all those roles are spectacular this one is not to shabby either. Hanks plays Viktor Navorksi the quirky foreigner from Krakozhia who finds himself stuck in a crack. The beauty of this role is that you see Viktor grow in front of the screen. He learns English, he finds ways to support himself even after constant obstacles are thrown at him, and he finds love in an unexpected location. We all can relate to airports and how they can be a place of joy and a place sadness. You have arrivals, and you have departures, for Viktor you have a home. Now don’t get me wrong it’s not all peachy during his stay, but he finds a way to stay optimistic and determined to complete what he started.
Stanley Tucci plays Frank Dixon the man in charge at JFK airport. JFK is one of the busiest if not the busiest airport in the country, and Frank is a machine that was made for the job. Little did he know that the biggest thorn in his life was Viktor Navorski. During Dixon and Navorski’s first visit you get what you expect. Frank tells Viktor this will all be sorted out, and Viktor walks away in confusion. (remember he doesn’t know much English) The confrontations are hilarious, and Viktor utters words such as “Big Apple” and “Where can I get the Nike shoes?” Frank starts to realize that the situation has not been resolved and quickly sees Viktor create a home for himself in the Terminal. Excellent shots of Viktor walking in a robe around the Terminal and being as meticulous as Frank is you can just see how annoyed he becomes. He does everything in his power to push victor out those doors, and when that doesn’t work he tries to “imprison” him. But by that time Viktor becomes a household name and Frank becomes an accessory. It’s a fantastic battle between the two, that brings great comedic humor to the screen.
Catherine Zeta-Jones plays Amelia Warren. Amelia is a flight attendant and is a frequent visitor to the Terminal between her flights. The romantic twist to the story is added and in a very novel way the two start to enjoy one anothers company. Viktor buys a new suit and works on his dating skills for his next visit with Amelia. Along the way Viktor makes a few friends who help him out with the date and they turn into very supportive group for Viktor. Amelia is a confused human being who usually tends to date older men who wine and dine her. She knows she has a problem, and finds purity in Viktor. She sees Viktor as a guy she has never dated, essentially a guy who isn’t a jerk. Zeta-Jones’ role is not a big one but it does add a nice twist to the life of a man living in a Terminal.
Here you see the crew Viktor forms in the Terminal. Three employees of the airport who all have such unique and friendly personalities. The man in the red is Enrique Cruz played by the talented Diego Luna. He is a food service driver and helps Viktor stay full. He also devolops a love interest in the film played by Zoe Saldana. The big man in the security outfit is played by Chi McBride. A limited role but a funny one as most of us are familair with McBride’s comedic abilities. The most memorable out of the three is the little Indian man Gupta Rajan played by Kumar Pallana. Gupta is a custodian and an insanely funny one throughout the movie. His limited appearances are all scene stealers, and he is one of the more memorable characters in the film. Gupta’s side story has a significant impact on the overall conclusion as well.
If you are in the mood for a light story that involves comedy, romance, and uniqueness then The Terminal is the movie for you. Tom Hanks is brilliant as always, Stanley Tucci plays the villianious role flawlessly and the rest of the cast fills in the gaps. It’s a movie with plenty of memorable scenes that you will be sure to remember.
My 1-10 scale = 8