- “Life is waiting.”
The Terminal is a 2004 American comedy-drama film directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks and Catherine Zeta-Jones. It is about a man who becomes trapped in New York's John F. Kennedy Airport terminal when he is denied entry into the United States and at the same time is unable to return to his native country due to a military coup.
Viktor Navorski, a traveler from Krakozhia, arrives at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, only to find that his passport is suddenly no longer valid due to the sudden outbreak of a civil war in his homeland. As a result, the United States no longer recognizes Krakozhia as a sovereign nation, and he is no longer permitted to either enter the country or return home as he is now considered to be stateless. Due to his inability to communicate in proper English, the airport's branch of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection seizes his passport and airline ticket, whereupon its temporary director, Frank Dixon, makes him stay in the terminal he came through. Left with no other options, Viktor decides to settle in at a closed off section of the terminal, Gate 67, with only his luggage and a peanut can, soon making a home out of it. Much to the frustration of Dixon, who is being considered for promotion to director of the U.S. Customs branch, Viktor chooses not to break out of the terminal but wait patiently until he can legally enter the United States. Dixon, who wants him to illegally attempt to enter the country so he can deport him, decides to try finding ways to make it difficult for him to survive in the terminal, slowly becoming obsessed in doing so. During his initial days at the terminal, Viktor encounters and helps out a flight attendant named Amelia Warren after she slips on a wet floor and breaks the heel of her shoes, who assumes he is a contractor of sorts from the pager he was given by Customs but is surprised by his respectful kindness to her.
When Viktor is unable to secure himself some food after Dixon cuts him off from an avenue of money, his plight is noticed by a food service worker at the airport, Enrique Cruz, who offers him food in exchange for helping in learning more about an immigration officer that he is infatuated with, Dolores Torres. After meeting with Amelia once again and wanting to take her out for a meal, Viktor begins improving his English while attempting to find work, and is soon hired by an airport contractor and paid under the table after he impulsively remodeled a wall at a gate that was scheduled for future renovation. During this time, he also befriends some of Enrique's friends whom he plays poker with, including a cargo handler named Joe Mulroy, and an Indian janitor named Gupta Rajan, learning from the latter that he came to the United States in order to avoid being arrested for stabbing a corrupt police officer back in India in 1979. When a Russian traveler creates a delicate situation when Customs attempts to remove the medicine he is carrying for his father, Dixon is annoyed when Viktor, whom he uses to persuade the man to leave the medicine behind, claims he misheard his Krakozhian dialect for "father" as "goat" so the traveler can leave with them. Shortly after the traveler leaves, Dixon strong-arms him over a photocopier, nearly foiling his chance for promotion, before later promising Viktor that he will never let him leave the airport. When the airport employees hear from Gupta of the incident in customs with the Russian and what Viktor did, Viktor finds himself respected and admired for his kindhearted actions, with many stores showing off photocopied images of his hand that had been accidentally made.
When Viktor meets with Amelia once again and takes her out for a meal, he slowly begins taking an interest with her, even wooing her, before offering to surprise her with a gift when she returns, based on his recent knowledge of Napoleon, soon creating a majestic fountain. After helping Enrique finally marry Torres, Viktor awaits the arrival of Amelia. Unknown to him, Dixon pulls her aside to question her about Viktor, revealing his true situation in the process. Feeling that he lied to her, Amelia confronts Viktor in Gate 67, shocked at his predicament, and tries to learn why he came to New York. Agreeing to tell her, Viktor reveals the contents of the peanut can he was carrying, explaining that his late father, a jazz enthusiast, had discovered the famous portrait, "A Great Day in Harlem", in a Hungarian newspaper in 1958, where after spending a week looking at it, he vowed he would collect the signatures of all 57 of the jazz musicians featured on it. Viktor reveals that the can contains not only a copy of the portrait, but the autographs of all the musicians his father received, but one - tenor saxophonist Benny Golson. After his father died, Viktor had promised to collect the last signature by coming to New York to find Golson. After hearing his story, Amelia kisses Viktor.
After having spent nine months in the terminal, Viktor is awakened by his friends who give him news that the war in Krakozhia has ended. Overjoyed, he celebrates in an airport bar, where Amelia meets with him and explains that a man she had been having an affair with, a government official, helped her to secure Viktor with a one-day emergency visa to fulfill his dream. While delighted, Viktor is saddened when he learns that her "friend" did so in order to renew their relationship. Despite this, Viktor heads off to Customs with renewed hope of going to New York, only to discover that Dixon must sign the visa. Seizing the opportunity, Dixon instructs Viktor to go home to Krakozhia, threatening to cause trouble for Viktor's friends by deporting them if he refuses. Unwilling to let that happen, he agrees to do so, despite his friends offering to prevent this happening. When Gupta, assuming he was acting a coward, learns of the situation he was put into, he decides to remove the burden from Viktor by running in front of the plane to Krakozhia as it taxies to the terminal, choosing to let himself be deported back to his native country in order to let his friend go to New York.
Dixon, shocked by this, attempts to stop Viktor leaving as he receives gifts from employees for his trip into the city, but is thwarted by his Custom agents, who let him leave. As Viktor leaves, seeing Amelia one more time before taking a taxi, Dixon finally gives up pursuing him further. Meanwhile, Viktor arrives in New York at the hotel where Benny Golson is performing, and finally collects the last autograph. As he steps into a taxi and places the last signature into the can, he soon tells the driver, "I am going home."
- Tom Hanks as Viktor Navorski, a Krakozhian immigrant temporarily living in a JFK Airport terminal.
- Catherine Zeta-Jones as Amelia Warren, flight attendant
- Stanley Tucci as Frank Dixon, Director of Customs and Border Protection at JFK
- Chi McBride as Joe Mulroy, cargo handler and a friend of Viktor
- Diego Luna as Enrique Cruz, food service and a friend of Viktor
- Barry Shabaka Henley as Thurman, assistant to Dixon
- Kumar Pallana as Gupta Rajan, janitor and friend of Viktor hiding in America to avoid an arrest back in India
- Zoë Saldana as Dolores Torres, an immigration officer and Star Trek fan romanced by Enrique through Viktor
- Eddie Jones as Richard Salchak, Dixon's boss
- Jude Ciccolella as Karl Iverson, Viktor's construction supervisor
- Corey Reynolds as Waylin, a security officer
- Guillermo Diaz as Bobby Alima
- Rini Bell as Nadia
- Stephen Mendel as First Class Steward
- Valery Nikolaev as Milodragovich
- Michael Nouri as Max, Amelia's married boyfriend
- Benny Golson as himself
- Scott Adsit as cab driver