While there have been worse films than A Hologram for the King, I was not a fan of this boring by-the-numbers movie.
The always likeable Tom Hanks stars as Alan Clay, an over the hill salesman who’s forced by his company to travel to Saudi Arabia to sell a new hologramatic system.
But, while working in the country, he has a transformative experience which reignites his old passions and lust for life.
Going into the cinema, I was pretty optimistic about Hologram. I love Hanks and thought the film looked interesting enough. Plus, the director, Tom Tykwer, directed Run Lola Run which I’ve always had a fondness for.
So I’m disappointed to say I wasn’t a fan.
Hologram is a harmless enough film, with a positive message, and I knew while watching it that it was workable enough. The performances are fine, the shots are dynamic, and it sped along at a hearty pace.
But, despite all that, I left the theatre feeling like I’d seen an IKEA style, flatpack film – sturdy enough but devoid of any real charm.
To be fair, the film does have one quirk, but I don’t think it really worked. Interspersed throughout the film are a handful of strange, semi-surreal cutaways. And, while I enjoyed the little asides, Tykwer uses them extremely haphazardly and they disappear entirely after the second act.
It’s not all bad – Hanks puts in his usual winning performance, essentially carrying the film single-handedly. The problem is that the script doesn’t really give him enough to do and his character arc feels slightly unearned.
There’s also been some mild controversy as to whether the film glosses over some of the more unpalatable aspects of Saudi culture.
And, it’s an odd one, there’s lip service paid to the human right’s abuses and treatment of women, but they pretty much don’t touch on it in any great detail. That’s fine, but why bring it up in the first place?
All in all, it’s probably best to wait until this one inevitably turns up on Netflix or ITV 2 on a Sunday afternoon.