Robbie is sexy and stylish in the trailer for her new film, but will the rest of it measure up?
Fresh off an Oscar nomination for her transformative role as disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding in I, Tonya, Margot Robbie is taking on the criminal underworld in style for her next movie. Harding’s fluffy 1980s bangs, spangled figure skating costumes, and Pacific Northwest twang are nowhere to be found in the first trailer for Terminal, set to hit theaters on May 11.
As with I, Tonya, Robbie is also credited as producer on this noir-thriller, which co-stars Simon Pegg, Mike Meyers, Max Irons and Dexter Fletcher. Written and directed by Vaughn Stein, an experienced assistant director making his debut as the main man behind the camera, Terminal tells the intertwining tales of two assassins, a terminally ill teacher, a janitor, and a mysterious waitress. You can guess which one of those is played by Robbie, can’t you?
The trailer oozes seedy, neon-drenched style reminiscent of Nicholas Winding Refn’s underworld sagas Drive and Only God Forgives, but it’s hard to determine whether the film’s substance will measure up to it. The plot of Terminal, or whatever there is of one, seems vague at best. It’s also hard to determine whether the film’s tone is meant to be darkly funny and borderline satirical, or if the film is so heavy-handed in its embrace of noir tropes that it just feels that way.
Despite these initial misgivings, Robbie appears to be having great fun in Terminal, and it is infectious. She definitely brings a bit of her unhinged Harley Quinn to the character of Annie, who claims to have an “unquenchable bloodlust” and that her goal is to set the men on each “like starving rats in a cage, and you can watch through the bars.” Among the wild scenes that the trailer manages to cram into less than two minutes, we see her sporting a blunt black bob and a big smile as she tortures someone for information and raising a glass to Pegg to toast “imminent death” in the midst of the retro-style diner where she works. Her brash British accent makes her sound like the female version of every Jason Statham character to ever appear in a Guy Ritchie movie. But whereas Ritchie’s films are almost entirely monopolized by men, it is clear that Robbie’s character is the mastermind here.
Like Charlize Theron’s badass bisexual spy in Atomic Blonde, Robbie’s character in Terminal appears to be fully aware of her sexuality and its ability to help her get what she wants. She’s so much more than a mere femme fatale, plopped down in the story just to seduce and destroy. Because her character has agency and an agenda beyond that of the men, the trailer doesn’t feel exploitative — even with a scene in a strip club. Rather, it feels empowering. The men exist as means to help Robbie reach an end; far too often in these types of films, it is the other way around. One hopes that Terminal will be for gangster films what Atomic Blonde was to the spy genre — a long-overdue showcase for a woman who can kick just as much ass as the men, and look better doing it too.