“The Terminal” showcases Hanks

Director Steven Spielberg teams up with Tom Hanks for the third time in “The Terminal”, a unique drama with nice romantic moments and great comedy.

Hanks headlines as Viktor Navorski, a Krakozhian citizen who finds himself stranded at JFK International Airport in New York City as his country experiences a military coup. Catherine Zeta-Jones has a very unselfish role as a veteran flight attendant named Amelia who literally falls into Viktor’s life (and lap). Her chaotic life and relationship with a married man create some personal challenges, though she does have many sweet, honest moments with Viktor.

Stanley Tucci plays the incredibly perceptive but mildly antagonistic airport manager Frank Dixon, who sees Viktor’s presence as a potential threat to his impending promotion. Barry Henley plays officer Thurman and the lovely Zoe Saldana, who played Anamaria in “Pirates of the Caribbean”, plays an INS agent.

85-year-old actor Kumar Pallana, who’s appeared in all of Wes Anderson’s films, plays Gupta Rajan, the memorable airport janitor. Gupta and his co-workers played by Diego Luna (Y Tu Mama Tambien) and Chi McBride (TVs Boston Public and the upcoming I, Robot) connect with Viktor in various ways.

John Williams provides the musical score and another great Spielberg collaborator, Janusz Kaminski, provides the soft glowing cinematography. This film resolves all the basic conflicts without getting too sappy or overdramatic. Viktor remains honest and kind throughout several ordeals while becoming quite resourceful in an unfamiliar environment. These events lead to a nice payoff when the plot reveals the actual purpose of Viktor’s trip in a memorable scene.

Spielberg continues to challenge himself as a director/storyteller by creating a believable and entertaining world in a limited space for most of the film. Filmmakers could have downplayed the flight attendant stereotypes involving Amelia and added a little bit more to the sudden ending. Still, this recommended film entertains and warms the heart with a memorable lead character you can really connect with.

Rated PG-13 for language and adult themes. This film was inspired by the story of an Iranian refugee named Merhan Nasseri who landed at a Paris airport in 1988, but could not leave because his passport and papers were stolen.