Friday, 19 May 2017
Review: THE CIRCLE (2017)
Based on the novel of the same name by Dave Eggers, the movie follows Mae (Emma Watson), who successfully lands a job at the huge tech company called The Circle. Everything seems promising at first, along with co-founder and CEO Eamon Bailey (Tom Hanks) who never fails to give his fellow employees a positive vibe during his weekly pep talks on stage. But all that changes when Mae discovers there's something suspicious about the company.
REVIEW: Having seen THE SPECTACULAR NOW four years ago, I was impressed at how director James Ponsoldt successfully crafted a well-acted yet profoundly honest coming-of-age drama. Then comes THE CIRCLE, a techno-thriller that focuses on today's social media age and digital privacy. Given its timely and relevant subject matter, this would be a good movie worth watching for. Besides, the movie is also blessed with a stellar cast including Emma Watson, Tom Hanks and John Boyega.
But what could have been an excellent cautionary tale here turns out to be sadly uneven. While I appreciate Ponsoldt's cerebral approach rather than succumbing into a typical Hollywood techno-thriller populated in the mid-90s (e.g. THE NET), the overall execution feels both haphazard and tedious. Part of the problem comes from the muddled script adapted by Ponsoldt and novelist Dave Eggers himself. For instance, how is it that Mae becomes so devoted to the company she feels sceptical in the first place? It looks as if her character is hastily written to jump from scene to another, while given a little time for her to develop in a proper manner. Another problem that really bugs me is the introduction of John Boyega as Ty. He is supposed to be a pivotal character here, playing the role of the inventor and founder of The Circle who knows the dark secret about the company. But yet, Boyega's role is written like an afterthought. Could it be his scene is mostly left on the cutting floor?
As for the cast, Watson looks appealing in this movie. But that alone isn't enough, given the way her inconsistent character is being portrayed. Then, there is BOYHOOD's Ellar Coltrane, whose performance as Mae's childhood friend is disappointingly flat and wooden. Bill Paxton, who plays his final performance here as Mae's MS-afflicted father, along with John Boyega are all equally wasted here.
Although THE CIRCLE looks like a missed opportunity, it does have it's few redeeming qualities. Tom Hanks shines in his supporting role as the charismatic co-founder of the titular company, while Karen Gillan (yes, the same girl who plays Nebula in the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY movies) pulls off an impressive performance as Mae's best friend, Annie.