There are some Tom Hanks movies where it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the role. The Terminal is one of those. This charming movie from 2004 has Hanks trapped in a tangle of strange laws and paperwork. He’s frustrated, but he’s making the best of it, and the many other characters in the movie become touched as they watch him struggle to do his best in a strange and difficult situation that has him trapped in an airport terminal. The movie is newly on Netflix, so it’s a good time to revisit this touching Tom Hanks comedy from 2004.
The trailer for The Terminal does give you a good feel for the film. Watch the Tom Hanks trailer below.
While it’s only hinted at in our trailer, Stanley Tucci plays the villain in this movie. Tom Hanks is Viktor Navorski. He’s just flown into the United States. He’s a resident of Krakozhia, a fictional nation. While he’s on his flight, his country breaks into war, disbands, and no longer exists. He clearly loves his country and is heartbroken when this happens. It’s a lot for him to understand and deal with, but he has new problems as well. His country no longer existing means his passport isn’t recognized. He can no longer enter the United States. He also can’t go home, because his country doesn’t exist. He can’t step through the airport doors out onto American soil, and he can’t go home. The airport terminal is now a limbo he is trapped in–as long as he plans to follow the rules. Stanley Tucci, who runs the airport, fully expects that this guy will simply break the rules and walk out the doors.
But this is a character played by Tom Hanks. He is sweet and wide-eyed innocence. While he is working with difficult translations and only roughly understands the situation at first, he understands enough, and he is a rule follower. So, he stays put. Trapped in the airport terminal and trying to decide what to do next as he files paperwork that is repeatedly denied. You get to watch him struggle to figure out not only the paperwork but how the American airport terminal works. The little struggles he counters, like where to sleep and how to get food, are all somehow exciting and delightful little obstacles as both the airport staff and the audience for the movie get to watch him overcome them.
During this personal journey, his life is still happening, with real relationships developing, including those of the romantic nature. Tom Hanks and Catherine Zeta-Jones have a sweet and developing love story in this movie. Catherine Zeta-Jones plays a flight attendant who is largely unaware of the situation this man is in. She is involved in her own dramas and believes she is meeting a business man at the airport as they go on cute dates and get to know each other. This love story is only a small subplot of the film though, so while it’s enough to give a romantic touch to the story, it’s not the central event. In fact, the relationships Tom Hanks develops best seems to be his friendships.
One of the fun things you’ll notice here is that a lot of faces you may not have been familiar with in 2004 are now actors you know and enjoy. For example, Zoë Saldana (Guardinas of the Galaxy) and Diego Luna (Rogue One). Currently, Diego Luna is set to become a much more well-known face, as he’s gearing up for his new Disney+ Star Wars series Andor. The pair have a cute subplot in this movie where Zoë Saldana is a Star Trek fan who works at the airport as an immigration official, denying the form Tom Hanks turns in every day. Diego Luna also works at the airport, cleaning, and adores Saldana from a far. You get to watch Hanks help the pair eventually get together and see their romance blossom.
Released in 2004, this movie is one of the infamous collaborations with Steven Spielberg. While the movie did well at the box office, it wasn’t one of their best-received efforts. For comparison, the pair made Saving Private Ryan for a 1998 release. That movie was made on a budget of $70 million and earned $482 at the worldwide box office. In 2002, Catch Me If You Can was released on a budget of $52 million and earned $352 million at the box office. The Terminal then released in 2004, on a budget of $60 million, and earned $219 million worldwide. This is still nothing to sneer at, but not one of their most well-known collaborative efforts.
Today, the movie is getting fresh life with Netflix fans. While it didn’t do exceptionally at the box office, it does still see solid reviews, with a 7.4 on IMDb and a 61% on Rotten Tomatoes. If you’re looking for a solid Tom Hanks experience, The Terminal is a sweet movie with a solid story.