Did you know a movie starring Margot Robbie and Simon Pegg came out this weekend? A movie that stars Robbie and Pegg and Mike Myers, in his only live-action movie appearance of the last eight years (“playing one of the sickest sickos in recent memory”)?
If you haven’t heard of Terminal, you’re not alone. I asked Brad Brevet, editor of BoxOfficeMojo.com, a website that tracks movie releases, about it, and he hadn’t heard of it. It’s not even in the site’s database, as the distributor (RLJE Films) isn’t reporting box office numbers.
Terminal, a debut feature from writer/director Vaughn Stein, a veteran assistant director and second unit director, seemed to fly well under the radar, and judging by the reviews it received, there was good reason for that. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave Terminal zero stars, calling it “one of the worst movies ever made.”
David Edelstein for Vulture called it “Crayola noir.” Though it should be said, Terminal did have its share of defenders, from Richard Roeper, who said it had “never with a dull moment,” and Colin Covert from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, who seemed genuinely taken with it: “Every moment of Terminal engages the eye, and — unexpectedly — the mind.”
Robbie also produced, through her production company, LuckyChap Entertainment, and you wonder if the chance to be the star would be as big a motivating factor now as it was when Terminal was shot 2016, before Suicide Squad and I, Tonya, and Robbie’s upcoming role as Sharon Tate in Quentin Tarantino’s Manson Family movie.
In the hopes of simply understanding this film, which seems almost like it was deliberately hidden, I returned to my old standby feature, Plot Recreated With Reviews, in which we attempt to piece together an entire movie using nothing but expository quotes from (usually scathing) reviews. The way film critics revert to exposition when they’re bored has always intrigued me.
With Terminal in particular, which I gather combines references to Pulp Fiction and Alice and Wonderland (“a script that plays like something Quentin Tarantino upchucked after watching Blade Runner while reading Alice in Wonderland and ingesting too many hallucinogens,” according to Rolling Stone), it’s interesting to note that almost every review, either deliberately or through osmosis, sounds like a hard boiled detective novel.