23 July 2004 | tfrizzell
Sometimes You Find Good Things in the Most Unlikely Places.
An Eastern European (Tom Hanks) from a fictional country literally gets stuck at JFK Airport in New York after his landing coincides with the point at which a war causes his nation to no longer exist. Thus his paperwork and passport are no good. Hanks is in the U.S. for a mysterious reason and that reason becomes the hook in this wonderful picture. While stuck, Hanks sees more of America than he could have ever imagined. However he constantly has trouble with airport supervisor Stanley Tucci (in a perfect role). Runway worker Diego Luna makes a deal with Hanks so he can learn about passport officer Zoe Saldana (a woman who Luna has loved from afar) via Hanks' attempts to have his passport accepted. Also Hanks meets an elderly Indian janitor (Kumar Pallana) who has been in the states for decades, but the reason he is there also becomes a key point. While all this goes on, Hanks falls in love with 30-something flight attendant Catherine Zeta-Jones (perfectly illuminating and beautiful as usual). Zeta-Jones is sad and disillusioned with men (Michael Nouri of "Flashdance" in particular) and past relationships that have failed for one reason or another. Director Steven Spielberg has never really been known for romantic pictures ("Always" in 1989 is an exception), but he proves that he can definitely handle a production like this. The cast is excellent with Hanks making all those around him better. This story was co-written by Andrew Niccol (even though he strangely did not pen the final script), an under-rated screenwriter who struck gold in 1998 with "The Truman Show". Many of the good things from that script are also presented here in diverse and creative ways. By the way, the art direction/set decoration is amazing as everything within the titled location was built from scratch in a studio. Spielberg was not allowed to film any airports due to obvious security reasons. From top to bottom, "The Terminal" flies high. 4.5 out of 5 stars.