Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases
Tom Hanks – Alan Clay
Alexander Black – Yousef
Sarita Choudhury – Zahra
Sidse Babett Knudsen – Hanne
Ben Whishaw – Dave
Tom Skerritt – Ron
I did not like this movie. At all. But I will try my best to bring you the highs – as well as lows.
Firstly, A Hologram for the King is tedious. It’s basically a portrayal of one man’s journey through stages of his life, as well as a journey to a foreign land. And yes, unfortunately it reeks of self-discovery like the 2010 flick, Eat Pray Love. Which isn’t the most exciting of concepts, seeing as we’ve been dealt many such stories before. Hollywood has cooked up a few “I have everything I want in life – but I don’t want it – I’m bored – I’m booking the next available flight to Gran Canaria” type movies, and A Hologram for the King is just another to add to the list. It’s nothing special, or original, in fact it’s actually quite tedious in places.
Ultimately, you’re watching a middle-aged businessman wander around desert plains (tie flapping in the wind) whilst delivering lingering gazes into the distance. They’re not endearing gazes though; they’re mostly moody looks of frustration as Alan (Hanks) gets stressed over various obstacles as he tries to propose a new business idea to the Saudi government.
What I found most tedious were the lengthy scenes involving just Alan – by himself. For example, in his hotel room trying to burst a huge spot on his back. Or necking a bottle of alcohol (illegally) with an expression of sadness on his face, following an almost irrelevant telephone call to a man from his room. The director seemed to focus heartily on melancholy moments of being alone in a foreign country. Which does have its qualities (more later on this), but remains quite simply – boring.
This worsens slightly when the movie continues with Alan travelling back and forth between hotel and company campus in the desert:
He arrives at his campus: his team of three inform him that they have no WiFi. He then leaves the campus.
He arrives at the headquarters of a company whose top boss he has an important meeting with.
The boss is out of the office and won’t be back in time to make their meeting. Alan then leaves.
He arrives at his hotel. Has a cheeky drink. Makes a phone call. Attempts to remove the spot on his back – it appears to be an irritant.
Further into the movie he has an appointment with his local doctor. She takes a sample of tissue from the irritant spot thing on his back, he opens up to her about his general health issues.
He returns to his company base to discover his team may actually have WiFi now.
Shortly after this he returns to the headquarters of his meeting, thinking it has been rescheduled. But it has not, and he is turned away by the receptionist again.
He yells at the receptionist.
“WHAT THE HELL DOES ANY OF THIS HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING?!”, was my initial reaction. This movie was becoming more and more tedious, scenes of ‘entertainment’ being insights into the daily activities of a businessman who had a spot on his back and no WiFi in his desert tent. A Hologram for the King was like some sort of fly-on-the-wall documentary for television which follows a businessman around when on a business trip. It really wasn’t fun. I wriggled in my seat more than a few times.
I wanted out..
I suppose some of this movie can be rather relatable to many of us. I’ve gone abroad to work, and certainly experienced a bit of culture shock myself.
Hanks displays this quite effectively with anxious facial expressions and honest dialogue. When Alan first enters his hotel room and sits down on his own, the atmosphere is slightly (only slightly) intriguing; that classic ‘fish out of water’ atmosphere radiates from the screen effectively, and these moments where he tries to adjust to his new environment are a little saddening.
It’s that classic case of a person starting over – regardless of the length of time they spend in this new country. New friends, new acquaintances, possible romantic interests, even that vulernable emotion of ending up in a foreign hospital needing help. A Hologram for the King subtly captures this mix of emotion, adding a dash of homesickness to heighten the dynamic. Good stuff.
Overall, this movie is pretty pointless. Who would possibly be intrigued by a businessman going abroad – for a business meeting – with the view to flog his business idea? The entire concept just doesn’t warrant a movie being produced, it takes up 96 minutes of screen time unnecessarily.
Unfortunately, A Hologram for the King is one of those movies you see the trailer for and sigh; Tom Hanks excitedly snapping a selfie whilst standing in front of two Saudi men in their silky outfits. Tom Hanks making the most of that classic stern facial expression as he ponders the route his life has taken. Tom Hanks mumbling advice to someone he just met (yes – his character only just lands in Saudi Arabia as various characters seem to offload their issues on him).
Tom Hanks and his distinctive voice – as though he’s speaking through a throat full of yoghurt.
Tom Hanks in general.
He’s a boring bastard isn’t he.
Steer clear of A Hologram for the King if you’re looking for a heartily entertaining movie. Yes it portrays the element of finding yourself whilst getting lost in a foreign land, but it also runs like a tedious documentary for the business sector. This movie should’ve been a promotional feature for a board room full of executives during their induction at a top London firm, not blended with low-level dramatics and made a film out of!