You would think it would be impossible for Tom Hanks and Emma Watson to appear in a below average film. But as the old saying goes, “Not anymore.”
The Circle, directed by James Ponsoldt, is a film that seeks to deliver a powerful blow in a world where privacy is quickly disappearing in our daily lives. Unfortunately, the film’s delivery is so weak that it dances on the edge of losing its meaning.
To begin with, it regrettably follows the lead of Steve Jobs (2015), a film with similar flaws. Both would have you believe that employees of powerful tech companies in Silicon Valley enjoy nothing more than to repeatedly appear in an auditorium where they cheer their leaders as they are being lectured from a large stage. Michael Fassbender repeatedly did the same thing in Steve Jobs and Tom Hanks follows his lead in The Circle.
Quite frankly, both films resemble the movies made by Leni Riefenstahl where Adolph Hitler is delivering speeches to an enraptured crowd who cheer in response. The reaction from the Silicon Valley tech employees was exactly the same as German Nazi sympathizers, and the only thing lacking was the Nazi salute.
With this film, Tom Hanks plays Emon Bailey, the founder of this tech company. In the same way that Germans embraced and tolerated anti-Semitism, Mr. Bailey urges his followers to create a technology where privacy will all but disappear in not only the United States but around the world. As an example, he seeks to have his company make millions by developing small cameras no bigger than cufflinks that can record the daily lives of everyone at every location. It is suggested that this will help lead to a more safe environment while sacrificing the importance of escaping public attention.
What really made this film tough to take was the large role played by Emma Watson, the enormously talented actress who recently made a spectacular contribution to the justifiably acclaimed Beauty and the Beast. Here, she plays Mae Holland, a single girl seeking to advance her career by supporting everything and anything suggested by her boss and his henchmen. Though you come to admire her ability to eventually recognize the harm that her company’s products will cause to American citizens, she takes a long time in reaching that conclusion. Her performance is good, but it does little to challenge her capabilities.
As for Mr. Hanks, it is disappointing to see such a great acting figure appear in a series of average films. Think of lackluster films like Inferno (2016), A Hologram for the King (2016) and Cloud Atlas (2012). Sure, Sully (2016) and Bridge of Spies (2015) had their moments, but has anyone else noticed that Mr. Hanks repeatedly plays basically the same character?
This is a movie that was largely rejected by movie fans around this country for good reason. It becomes a rather tedious experience that you can miss without any regret.