Monday, December 18, 2017

The Circle: Solid on Story Line and Character Development

Movie Review: The Circle (2017)
Version: Library borrow

There was something creepy about The Circle. Not in a horror-movie way. Not in a sexual-assault way. But in an invasion-of-your-privacy way. And that's what this film is about, really, advanced technology's potential to invade your privacy in the most personal and devastating ways. For that reason alone, it's worth seeing, to explore what you may not imagine your giving technology access to while you're visiting Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Snapshot and all of those other "entertaining" programs on the Internet.

What enhances the creep factor is having usually affable, lovable Tom Hanks play the bad guy. He's not a violent bad guy. He's not a seductive bad guy. But he is a manipulator and someone who takes advantage of the weak and innocent. And when you are used to seeing him play good guys most of the time, seeing him play this kind of role rips your heart out. He plays the CEO of The Circle, the tech and social media company that just wants to connect the world for the betterment of human kind.

Playing opposite him is Emma Watson, who is the weak, innocent young woman who doesn't seem to have the strength or the will or the sophistication to resist Hank's charm or manipulations. She just goes along to get along. And Watson is so appealing as an actor that you can't help but feel for her as she keeps digging herself deeper into a hole as she advances in the company.

The basic story is that as Mae, one-time customer service rep for the city water department, she gets the job of a lifetime at The Circle. She starts out as a customer relations agent. But Hank's character, Bailey, and his COO Stenton (played by Patton Oswalt), see potential in her, and they give her an exciting new assignment. Now, The Circle is a social media program available all over the world, and its thing is connecting people and promoting openness and transparency. So this new assignment is to wear a camera and expose herself to cameras that The Circle has posted everywhere, to follow her every move, everywhere. She becomes an overnight success, people all over the world following her and loving her. But there are complications as the world taps into her relationships with others in her life, bringing unintended consequences, some of them devastating. In the background is a reclusive employee (Ty, played by John Boyega), who shows Mae the inner workings of The Circle and its dangerous potential. Their only solution is to challenge The Circle.

The look and feel of The Circle is today's Google or Facebook, but bigger and badder. The company's campus is amazing, full of fun places to work, exciting activities, inviting parties, and constant interaction between employees and frequent innovation. But hidden beneath the surface is a desire to control the world for profit.

If you spend a lot of time on social media, this movie will make you think twice about how and how much you share your personal information. That's really how The Circle might creep you out. That can be a good thing. But remember, it's just a movie. And it's a good one, well acted and well scripted. The futuristic graphics are solid and the limited special effects are great.

This was the last film for Bill Paxton, who plays Mae's father, who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis in the story. Paxton died early this year from complications of a surgical procedure for an aneurysm. He gave a fine final performance.

The Circle isn't an amazing film, but it is a good one, solid on story line and character development.

No comments: