Have you heard the one about the dying English teacher, the bottle blonde and two cockney gangsters? No? You probably wouldn't want to either. Those are the basic ingredients of Margot Robbie's new film, Terminal, a low budget affair produced by the Australian actress which must explain the only reason why she would be involved in such an ill-conceived mess.
It must also be why Simon Pegg, Mike Myers and Dexter Fletcher were talked into making up the numbers in the cast. Clearly without reading the script either, as writer-director Vaughn Stein's debut film is stuffed so full of his influences that he forgets to write a story of his own.
Quite what Terminal is about, or why it was made in the first place, remains a mystery even as the closing credits hit the screen. Robbie is given the name of Annie although she slips between three characters: a late-night pole dancer, an all-night café waitress who revels in suicide talk and a cold blooded brunette killer.
Elsewhere, roaming around the over stylised, neon-lit Blade Runner set (with an added dash of De Palma and Winding Refn to boot) are two gangsters, Vince (Dexter Fletcher) and Alfred (Max Irons), who are offered up as Lidl versions of Tarantino's Jules and Vince, spouting the sort of banter dialogue you'd expect in Essex Boys (although Fletcher does know how to lean into his East London accent to deliver a swear word).
Robbie wobbles in and out of her own London dialect and Myers occasionally appears in heavy make-up spouting a wacky line or two as a character you know is going to play a more important role as the ‘plot’ (a term which should be used very loosely here) reveals itself. Simon Pegg features in a straighter role than normal without ever moving beyond being Simon Pegg minus the jokes.
The work of cinematographer Christopher Ross is more eye-catching than anything the cast have to offer and he goes to town over-decorating every scene to the point of distraction. The setting appears to be some form of retro-dystopian future but no information is offered up about where any of this takes place.
Things only get worse the deeper you step into Stein’s nonsensical neo-noir world and where the first half hour feels hollow it is at least bearable, a feeling that becomes all the more distant the longer we are subjected to his script. You could feel some sympathy for the cast who can only work with the material they are given, but it was their call to get involved in the first place. It all adds up to a dreary 90s throwback that is as incurable as its own title suggests.