It’s almost impossible, based on the marketing materials that have been released, to figure out what exactly is happening in the new movie Terminal, starring Margot Robbie. So, because deciphering all the convoluted points offered in the trailers and minimal help offered by the rest of the campaign is super-difficult, here’s the synopsis offered by IMDb:
In the dark heart of a sprawling, anonymous city, TERMINAL follows the twisting tales of two assassins carrying out a sinister mission, a teacher battling a fatal illness, an enigmatic janitor and a curious waitress leading a dangerous double life. Murderous consequences unravel in the dead of night as their lives all intertwine at the hands of a mysterious criminal mastermind hell-bent on revenge.
Got it? Alright, let’s dive in.
“Revenge never looked so good” we’re told on the first poster, which shows Robbie looking fabulous while standing in front of a wall of TV screens. Presumably she’s the one exacting revenge on those shown behind her given she’s the one holding the gun.
All we see in the teaser trailer is Robbie walking down a dark hallway of some kind while narrating how she’s just the kind of crazy it takes to survive in this world. Other characters are shown only in profile as they walk down other alleyways and corridors. So we’re not given any kind of clues about the story other than how she seems to be at the center of some conspiracy that has collected other individuals for one last payoff. Instead it’s about selling the look and feel of the movie, which is shown as a slick crime drama.
The theatrical trailer offers only slightly more details about the story and characters but very clearly sells the movie as a violent black comedy. A collection of bad men has been brought together by Annie, who has manipulated and seduced each one into just the position she wants them in so, it seems, she can enact some form of revenge. There’s little to no explanation as to why she’s doing this and there’s someone named Mr. Franklin who also seems to be pulling some strings, but everyone eventually finds themselves on the wrong side of Annie’s knife.
It’s less concerned with story than style and it has plenty of that, with neon lights and bright makeup and rain-drenched alleyways. It’s neon noir and looks like it might be a lot of fun if the movie itself retains this kind of attitude and approach.
Online and Social
There really doesn’t seem to have been any web presence at all created specifically for the movie. No website, Twitter or Facebook have been found through search.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Similarly, no advertising appears to have been done.
Media and Publicity
A picture of a very glamorous-looking Robbie in character served as the first look from the movie while it was at the Toronto Film Festival looking for a buyer, which it found just as the festival was wrapping up.
Closer to release Robbie talked about her character’s ability to adopt one of any number of disguises to take care of what needs to be taken care of. There was also a breakdown of the various characters that get caught up in the story.
The lackluster effort shown here to sell what might be a slick, fun and stylish noir betrays a lack of faith that the movie could even find an interested audience, much less motivate them to action. It’s disappointing because these are just the kind of creative risks more filmmakers should be making. While the marketing materials in particular have resulted in a bit of conversation about the movie it’s largely flying under most everyone’s radar.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.