Terminal is the debut feature film by filmmaker Vaughn Stein (read Wess Haubrich's interview with Stein here). It stars Margot Robbie, Simon Pegg, Dexter Fletcher and Mike Myers. This ensemble cast turn in performances as scheming criminals whose paths are all joined by a mysterious performance by Margot Robbie as Annie.  Annie is obsessed with death and "Alice in Wonderland", an interesting set of hobbies that weave their way through the entire DNA of the film. The setting is often surreal, paying homage to Lewis Carroll's world of nonsensical encounters with its own campy insanity. However, the film is far from perfect, it wears its influences plainly on its sleeves and often leans too far into campiness.

Take for example its relationship to "Alice in Wonderland". The film takes every chance it gets to remind you that it is referencing the book. Repeating lines from it, referencing characters. It is at times poorly written because you can clearly see its influence without it having to be spelt out by every character in the film. That being said, the surrealist approach to setting and themes, really gives the film a charm unlike other recent noir films. The story takes place in a seemingly always abandoned train station, giving an original eerie nature to every scene. The plot feels enclosed to a limited number of locations and this helps a pressure cooker tension build from scene to scene. The film has a lot of fun with this concept, setting out a playground for the characters to roam.

Margot Robbie, fresh off her Oscar Nominated I, Tonya Performance, really takes the movie on her shoulders, carrying the plot from scene to scene. With acting that may not parallel her award-worthy work, but certainly carves out a memorable character perfectly embedded in this treacherous world of Terminal. However, though the movie belongs to Robbie, the supporting cast does just as much to complete the film's identity. It is nice to see Simon Pegg's take on a darker, more beaten down character. Where as sometimes the dialogue is poorly written or over the top by the other actors, Pegg manages to make anything believable, he acts as the audience's moniker into the upside-down world. He plays a terminally-ill teacher who comes to the station to end his own life but runs into the station manager who sends him the way of Annie.

The station manager is portrayed by Mike Myers, scarcely have we seen Myers in films recently, so it's interesting that the role he takes is in this noir thriller. Myers gets to flex his serious-acting muscles as he takes on a multi-faceted character that incorporates both his comedic chops and his dramatic skills. Myers is right at home in this hitmen's Wonderland, his unhinged performance adding to the roaster of insanity the movie has to offer.

The movie has a sense of style that has been lacking from so much of recent film. Vaughn Stein implements an original approach to the genre. Though the film is an interesting mesh of ideas, it doesn't always work. The performances are great, but the plot doesn't seem to matter all-together. It becomes repetitive, cheesy and derivative of its influences. Though I praise its attention to style and tone, its writing and structure leave a lot to be desired. Firstly, the editing is often jarringly paced, not giving scenes time to breathe or commit to the atmosphere.  The opening of the film is very cartoonish and, in a way, ruins a lot of the tension and reveals in the plot. The ending not doing much to wrap up the stories satisfyingly. Though the tone sets up a world where ridiculous things can happen, the film really takes liberties with that concept.

Though this is a debut and though there are problems, it is mostly overcome by a fascinating genre film filled with fun characters and their respective performances. This really helps overlook any missteps the film makes and it's a huge success when the tone and ideas of a movie really shine through. The director took a chance on a specific style, which didn't always work but sure as hell made for a more entertaining movie, than a sterile, uninspired action thriller that would usually come from Hollywood. In fact, so much of the thrillers, crime and spy movies that come out, forfeit a distinct style for a mass-appeal action plot. It is incredibly interesting to see such a talented cast take on such a strange concept. This type of genre film would have been a major release in the '80s or '90s. It feels out of place in the current movie climate. Which in a lot of ways is a good thing.

Though it doesn't hit its mark all the way through, Terminal is a truly twisted tale, stepped in style and a noir tone that has been missing from recent cinema. Though it wears a ton of obvious influences, it moves beyond them and manage to carve out its own set of unique characters.