This Michael Crichton adaptation is a chilly yet intriguing affair. Mike Hodges adapts Crichton's narrative in a style that keeps the audience at arm's length: the characters are either remote or off-putting while the plotting downplays emotion and instead favors a clinical exploration of its ideas about how technology and medicine often overlook the human cost of their advances. The clinical tone is further extended via Hodges' directorial approach: sets and costumes are colored in only black and white and a traditional musical score is avoided in a favor of a single Glenn Gould piano recording. Thus, The Terminal Man isn't an easily accessible piece of work and a good cross-section of viewers are likely to find it an alienating experience. That said, The Terminal Man has rewards to offer to the adventurous viewer. Richard Kline's photography lends the film an eye-catching style and Hodges uses it to impressive effect during the film's big moments, particularly the atmospheric, graveyard-set finale. The Terminal Man also boasts fine performances: Joan Hackett is convincing as a chilly doctor whose emotions thaw as she sees the effects of the operation on her patient, Donald Moffat offers a believable portrait of bureaucratic indifference as the executive who approves the operation and George Segal turns in his most underrated work as the title character, a decent man who has become weary from the evil caused by his neurological problems. To sum up, The Terminal Man is not for all viewers but those can appreciate its cerebral approach to science fiction will find it rewarding.
by Donald Guarisco review