For all Terminal's style and flash, writer-director Vaughn Stein's meandering tale of assassins and fatefully crossed paths lays out such confusing narrative that three quarters of the way through, I couldn't have passed a quiz about the characters' goals or why they were doing anything that they were doing. From what I could gather, an assassin (Margot Robbie) promises that she can kill her competition, and then a bunch of people somehow connected to all this end up at an all-night diner outside a train station. But time jumps back and forth, so the story could be taking place three weeks earlier or in the present. Mike Myers shows up as an elderly, British janitor, and the people in the diner talk a lot -- endlessly -- and the assassin for some reason waits tables. Bear with me. I also don't know what's going on, and I saw it.
Despite the story's dire incoherence, Robbie's reasoning for taking on the lead role of Annie (an assassin, waitress and exotic dancer) seems obvious: How often do female stars get the opportunity to play a multifaceted villain? But Stein's direction -- which favors harsh, blinding backlighting and funky Dutch angles over visibility of performers' faces -- creates a vast distance between actor and viewer. Stein mistakes successive frantic editing for purposeful action and refuses to allow cinematographer Christopher Ross to simply shoot an actor -- any actor -- head-on. The first-time director is done no favors by a script, his own, that's riddled with cliches; this is the second film I've seen this week that features a character aiming a gun at someone, then saying "boom" instead of shooting.
Vaughn SteinMargot Robbie, Simon Pegg, Matthew Lewis, Mike Myers, Max IronsVaughn SteinRLJ Entertainment