Vaughn Stein/ USA, UK, Ireland/ 2017/ 96 mins
As part of Edinburgh International Film Festival
This noir-esque revenge thriller follows multiple characters in an unnamed city – assassins Vince (Dexter Fletcher) and his younger assistant Alfred (Max Irons), terminally ill teacher Bill (Simon Pegg), a mysterious janitor (Mike Myers) and Annie (Margot Robbie) a waitress who reveals herself to be more of a femme fatale. All of them are thrown together in a tale of twists and turns that link them in ways of which they are unaware.
The film is impressive from a production design perspective, featuring impressively-stylised sets and vivid use of red and green lighting to create a traditional ‘four colour’ aesthetic reminiscent of Dick Tracy. Most of the performances are also good, with Robbie in particular effectively portraying Annie’s initial sarcastic nature and her later more manic personality. However, Myers is unconvincing as both the janitor, which comes across as one of his rejected comedy characters, and at portraying the more dramatic moments required of him at the climax.
Moreover, both the dialogue and plot are cliched and convoluted, coming across as yet another attempt to ape the successful formula of Guy Ritchie and Tarantino but falling into the trap of being respectively overly-mannered and obnoxious, and simply too implausible to have any dramatic effect. In particular, the third act features a series of last-minute twists connecting Pegg, Robbie and Myers that come off as ludicrous and feel as if they were included simply for the sake of having twists in the plot.
Despite a distinctive visual aesthetic, Terminal is a case of style over substance that fails to convince as a compelling thriller and wastes its star talent as a result. In addition, it is another example of a pale Tarantino/Ritchie imitator that proves that filmmakers need to look at other directors for inspiration.