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Margot Robbie, Max Irons, Mike Myers, Simon Pegg and more inhabit Terminal; a teenage wet dream of half-baked philosophy and unearned confidence.

Writer and director Vaughn Stein’s crime thriller (?) packs a host of stars in its ensemble and it’s pretty safe to say that each and every one of them underperforms in relation to their capabilities.

Terminal certainly isn’t the type of film that you want to hate but it is the kind that you almost always do. Stein clearly has an appreciation for real talent but he falls into the time-honoured tradition of mistaking imitation for originality. His dialogue is delivered with the ferocity of a Guy Ritchie film but there’s absolutely no bite to his words. The world which the characters inhabit, quite obviously, isn’t supposed to resemble anything more than a parody of reality but, with no relatable human beings to travel through it with, it’s impossible to prescribe meaning to anything.

It’s grimy, flickering neon, nightlife Landan and it’s deliberately ugly; like everything else, the chic is well established. But it’s never a world. Terminal never feels like an actual, concrete, place that people inhabit. It’s a collection of sets and scenes that are all meant to connect up, in various ways, but they just don’t. It’s just an extreme, sugary, assault on your senses. Almost every single shot has more than three different coloured light sources and it’s putridly disorientating. You’re never sure what you’re meant to be focussing on until you realise that it’s nothing.

It seems fairly obvious that Stein really wanted to make a colour-soaked, irreverent, crime film full of fast-talking gangsters and unpredictable plot twists. He really cares about whether you think the film looks cool. Whether you think the main character is sexy. Whether every other person you come across has a cool job, like “hitman”, and whether everyone is either cracking wise or waxing lyrical. What he doesn’t care about is whether or not any of it is good or engaging. You don’t really know who the characters are, you don’t really know what they want, so there’s no stakes.

Getting angry at films for being pretentious is a pointless exercise but every single line of dialogue in Terminal really does smack of the constant, tiresome, sarcasm of someone who thinks that they’re significantly more intelligent than they actually are. All Stein really proves here, as a filmmaker, is that he really likes “alternative” pop culture and can string a sentence together. Maybe if he hadn’t felt the need to give even the most meaningless, bit, parts to famous actors then even one of the performances would feel like anything more than autopilot.

It’s incredibly expensive test footage that shows absolutely no promise. All of the characters are unpleasant, it’s disjointed and overly stylised. A more fitting title would be Dead on Arrival. Avoid.

Terminal will be released in select UK cinemas on July 6th.

Mark Birrell

Mark is the editor of The Spread as well as a copywriter, and lifelong cinephile, who received his bachelors in Film and Comparative Literature from the University of London. You can follow him on Twitter @markwbirrell

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Posted on Jul 4, 2018

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