The Terminal is an adequate representation of the absurdity of Governments and nationality, the absurd men who are in-charge and administrate them and how ethics and compassion begins where hierarchy ends. Tom Hanks is essentially a man without a country, and because of this he cannot enter America or go home. Why? Because he’s not a citizen of any recognized land. Apparently who you are as a person and whether or not you’re trustworthy depends upon who you give (“give”) your taxes to. It’s a situation so absurd that even the person who puts him there says, “Why doesn’t he run out those doors? Why doesn’t he escape?” The answer being he’s been conditioned to follow orders and be a tool rather than an individual capable of critical thinking or expression of individual will (though Tom Hank’s character proves to be very resourceful) – such is the nature of Man under State. Later in the film however we see evidence against such notion though and shows that despite his exterior of someone who wishes to obey orders he lies to a agent of the Government (breaking the law assumingly) for the greater good. Much like someone who still is somewhat blind and considers himself patriotic or believing in some more Progressive form of Government, Capitalism or religion when psychologically at-least a part of him knows that such things (or at-least the primary essence of them) are corrupt.
In the spineless bald man we see the nature of Bureaucracy and the fear of taking responsibility in a hierarchal system (in this case the State-Capitalist System) that they actually aspire to deprive him of food so he will break the law and be placed under arrest. And such is his psychological dependency that he is honestly not fearful of going to a country that is a police state simply because it is his Motherland. Tom Hank’s character is wholly virtuous however; he merely exhibits the traits of someone who has been conditioned to obey – he is both making the best of a bad situation and expresses all the virtues that can be expressed in an awful state of human affairs.
Baldy then tries to lock him up in a Federal prison just to get him out of his hair – or rather his lack of it. He is the representation of a spineless bureaucrat and a petty despot rolled in one (a common combo), one who doesn’t have any concern for human life as long as his own ass that bends to the whims of superiors and takes loads of reproductive fluid from higher-ups is preserved in its marvelously wretched state. Tom Hanks though he is somewhat Patriotic has an ethic that is contrary to the State-Capitalist one; he recognizes that simply because the State or any corporation commands him to do something or sets something as a verdict does not mean he must obey and certainly not that it’s correct.
Others sacrifice their own welfare and even potentially freedom to aid their friend – as he does for them. This shows the nature of friendship as a mutual agreement to “look out for each other.” Those who do not respect this or have this moral impulse of compassion and sense of obligation to help friends or families are those who do not deserve service from the moral community nor should they get it. One may find it to be a minor aspect of the film, but with Tom Hanks going to New York to fulfill a promise to his deceased father; we see that this notion penetrates the very core of the film as well as resonating throughout it. Those who live for the benefit of noble ideals and benefit of others (which is one of the noblest ideals there is) are those who deserve respect; those who share the sentiments, cowardice and closed-mindedness of baldy however deserve nothing but a combination of pity and contempt. Them being in charge of our world shows that we will never reach our fullest potential both in ability and ethic as long as they are in charge; or rather as long as anyone is “in charge” since the very nature of hierarchy is creating goons like him.