Terminal (2 stars)

Terminal

Margot Robbie has fun in a sometimes stylish but largely ridiculous and derivative noir

Sin City meets Alice in Wonderland in this heavily stylised noir, the debut feature from British writer-director Vaughn Stein. Set in an anonymous, neon-soaked metropolis, the film stars Margot Robbie (who also produces) as Annie, a mysterious waitress drawn into twin narratives.

In the first, she reels in a pair of hitmen (Dexter Fletcher and Max Irons), aiming to set them against each other so she can pinch their contracts from unseen crime boss Mr Franklyn. And in the second, she cheerfully helps terminally ill teacher Bill (Simon Pegg) brainstorm some ways to die over a cup of tea when he's the only customer at her late-night diner The End of the Line. Meanwhile, a shifty-looking janitor (Mike Myers) lurks in the background of both stories.

Sporting an accent that makes her sound like she's auditioning for a part in EastEnders, Robbie is clearly enjoying herself here and there are a number of other minor pleasures – from Fletcher's committed performance as a bored assassin to Robbie's wardrobe choices (her red coat is particularly fabulous) and some neat little touches in the set design, such as a squared-off version of the London Underground logo.

However, taken as a whole, it's less than gratifying. The stories never connect in a satisfying fashion and both tales are undone by a series of increasingly ridiculous twists that fail to work because there's no emotional investment in the characters. Moreover, it's poorly paced and the dialogue skirts dangerously close to pretentious at times (Pegg's English teacher mansplaining 'pathetic fallacy' springs to mind), while Stein overdoes both the Tarantino references (it has everything from bickering hitmen to glowing suitcases and a Mia Wallace wig) and the not-as-successful-as-he-thinks-it-is Alice in Wonderland metaphor. In the end, Terminal disappears into its own rabbit hole.

Limited release from Fri 6 Jul.

Terminal

  • 2 stars
  • 2018
  • Ireland/UK/Hong Kong/Hungary/US
  • 1h 30min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Vaughn Stein
  • Cast: Margot Robbie, Simon Pegg, Dexter Fletcher
  • UK release: 6 July 2018

Annie (Robbie) is a mysterious waitress drawn into twin narratives in this hyper-stylish noir set in an anonymous neon-soaked metropolis. Robbie is clearly having fun and there are some nice minor touches, but the stories are undone by ridiculous twists that bar emotional investment in the characters.

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