Margot Robbie, still just 27, is on pace to have an all-time great movie career — which means that decades from now, when cinephiles work their way through her complete filmography, they’ll have to reckon with writer-director Vaughn Stein’s bizarro science-fiction noir “Terminal.”
Robbie’s latest star vehicle isn’t totally terrible, and she’s quite good in it. But coming on the heels of her commanding turn in “Suicide Squad” and Oscar-nominated performance in “I, Tonya,” the decision to co-produce and take the lead in something as negligible as “Terminal” is … bizarre.
Robbie plays a smirking, knowing femme fatale — sometimes called “Annie” and sometimes “Bonnie,” for reasons explained late in the story — who spends her life manipulating and befuddling violent men in some vaguely defined urban dystopia.
Stein (previously an assistant director on “World War Z” and the TV series “Elementary”) constructs visually striking scenes in a style reminiscent of Terry Gilliam and Nicolas Roeg. He also populates the screen with strong actors, including Simon Pegg as a sickly everyman and Mike Myers as a shadowy puppet master.
But his plot doesn’t make a lick of sense. “Terminal” seems primarily designed to drift dreamily between scenes of the heroine acting cool and sexy, before piling all of its explanations and revelations into an interminable final act.
Robbie is fascinating to watch, as always. But in this case she’s providing 100-watt star power to a tacky little table lamp.
Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica