Terminal (2018)

*. Let us now praise Margot Robbie. I thought she was very good in Suicide Squad, which was not a good movie. I think she’s very good here too, in a movie that’s even worse. That’s something she deserves some credit for. I don’t think it’s easy to be good in bad movies.
*. Did I say worse than Suicide Squad? Well, Terminal is a talky film and none of the talk is good. It’s a movie that promises plot twists but none of the twists is interesting or unexpected. It plays a lot like a neon Tarantino, but by 2018 wasn’t that coming to the party awfully late?
*. Robbie, however, is fascinating. She’s dolled up in various fetish outfits (waitress, stripper, vamp, nurse) and her lips are so brightly painted it’s hard to pay attention to anything else. Even so, and given she’s playing a cartoonish psycho, you can tell she’s actually doing a really good job with what she’s been given to work with. She’s high-impact glossy and everybody else seems to be playing in black and white.
*. We’ve been here before. And not just in terms of the plot. It was shot in Budapest, I assume because it was cheap because otherwise it might as well have been filmed in any abandoned industrial site. The city itself is never named, being a generic, ahistorical, noir wasteland. Proyas’s Dark City seems the obvious model, as it’s never day. There also don’t seem to be any people except at the White Rabbit strip bar.
*. The ending should have been more fun. It’s a crazy enough premise, but then it’s played out as just some lazy exposition followed by a nasty coup de grâce. Not even two Margot Robbies can save it.
*. I don’t have anything else to say. It’s become obligatory to praise the photography and art direction of such self-consciously artificial-looking films, but I found the garish colour and giant vacant sets to be pointless, even as they seemed in some mysterious way what the movie was really about.

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