2004 Certificate: 12


Tom Hanks puts in a sterling performance as a stranded passenger in Steven Spielberg's amusing tale - improbably based on a true story. He's entirely believable as a confused traveller who arrives at New York's JFK airport from the nation of Krakozhia, only to be told that "America is closed". It transpires that during his flight, there was a military coup in his homeland and the US refuses to recognise the new government. So, with an invalid passport, he can neither enter the country or go anywhere else. But at least he can rely on trolley dolly Catherine Zeta-Jones for tea and sympathy.


  • Steven Spielberg


  • Tom Hanks

  • Stanley Tucci

  • Catherine Zeta-Jones

  • Chi McBride

  • Diego Luna


Spielberg is known to be the master at what he does, and The Terminal is no exception.

It's a film which ultimately dishes out a serious portion of cheese and schmultz, so if you hate that sort of thing, you'd best avoid.

However, the performance of Hanks as Viktor Navorski is outstanding and his eastern European accent is faultless.

Arriving at New York's JFK airport from (the fictitious) Krakozhia on a sentimental mission hidden inside a nut jar, Viktor is told that "America is closed".

It transpires that during his flight, there was a military coup in Krakozhia and now the US doesn't recognise the new government, so, with a passport from nowhere, he is unable to enter the country and remains stranded in the terminal.

With limited 'yes/no' English, and no interpreters in sight, it's left to the airport's immigration head, played brilliantly by Stanley Tucci, to explain the situation... he fails but Viktor sees the coup on the TV news.

He settles himself into life in the terminal, finding himself a quiet spot to sleep in, dry crackers and mustard to munch on and public conveniences to wash his armpits in.

Gradually, as each day and each refusal by a kindly immigration officer to stamp his forms passes, Viktor becomes a favourite of the airport staff - except the chief.

He finds work, finds friendship amongst a quirky group of staff who play poker for lost property goodies and finds love with a flight attendant, played by Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Zeta-Jones is unconvincing as Amelia Warren, who falls for the charms of Viktor - leading to a hilarious romantic dinner scene with Gupta the cleaner/plate thrower.

The film undeniably delivers on what Spielberg set out to achieve, as he revealed at The Venice Film Festival:

"I wanted to make another movie that could make you laugh and cry and feel good about the world."

With a top class performance from Hanks and the mish-mash of airport workers, The Terminal will make your minor airport delays seem inconsequential.