Tom Hanks’ Charm Fails To Lift The Forgettable “A Hologram For The King”

Based on the 2012 novel of the same name by Dave Eggers, writer-director Tom Tykwer’s film boasts a charming performance from the dependable Tom Hanks but very little else.

Tom Hanks is as watchable and likable as ever as he delivers the charming performance of Alan, a man going through a midlife episode while attempting to sell the latest IT Tech to the Saudi Arabian King. However charming he is, even Tom Hanks might not be charismatic enough to save the film’s choppy plot and strange focal points from ultimately distracting from the watching experience.

We witness Alan’s beautiful wife and house literally go up in a blitz of purple smoke that opens the film as if it were some strange advertisement for an insurance company before he flees to Saudi Arabia with a business deal of a lifetime. That’s all the purple smoke we see. The mise en scene quickly changes from American city to marvellous desert, there are some stunning scenic shots helped made comical by the use of Alan’s driver Yousef (Alexander Black). He offers a comical performance befriending Alan with 80s pop music before later smuggling him into Mecca.

Based on the 2012 novel, the film shows promise, the narrative is interesting and the cast is good, but somehow writer-director Tom Tykwer has managed to create a movie where three completely separate plots come forth and where none of them really end. Hanks gets a pre-cancerous growth and falls in love with his doctor who he remains with in Saudi Arabia after he and his team spend weeks in the desert looking for a king who seems as though he will never turn up. When he finally arrives he turns down their hologram infused proposition.

The title seems misplaced, the hologram is there to impress us but this part of the plot is forgotten as soon as it is revealed, while the love story which might have offered some interesting cultural premise is too rushed to be of any real use. There is an earlier love interest from a Danish lady who gets Alan blind drunk at an embassy party while Yousef tries to hide from the man whose wife he may or may not be having an affair with. Meanwhile his daughter who we meet briefly and Alan occasionally swaps an email with is awaiting financial help so she can go to college back home.

The plot is rushed, manic and unsettled. Hanks and Black try their best to save the plot from disaster offering some comedic moments for an easy and relaxing watch. The film tries to be about everything but ultimately it has tried too hard and unfortunately comes across quite beige. Hanks and Black are as entertaining as ever and the set is beautiful but this is not enough to stop the film being so frenzied it fails to be as funny as expected.

a hologram for the king, two stars, Top 10 Films

Written by Leah Jade Wimpenny

Directed by: Tom Tykwer
Written by: Tom Tykwer
Starring: Tom Hanks, Alexander Black, Sarita Choudhury, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Ben Whishaw, Tom Skerritt
Released: 2016 / Genre: Comedy-Drama
Country: USA / IMDB
More reviews: Latest | Archive

Top 10 Films reviewed A Hologram For A King on Blu-ray courtesy of Icon Film Distribution. The film was released on Digital Platforms, DVD & Blu-ray in September, 2016.

About the Author
Leah is a former student of film, media and culture studies and English literature at the University of Huddersfield. When not in uni or writing for magazines she is pulling pints in the local pub, drinking an excessive amount of tea or reading up on the latest philosophical theories.

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    Angel Reply

    Like you I thought Tom Hanks was good but the film lacked drama.

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