Movie Reviews

Movie Review: 'A Hologram For The King'

By Andre FroisMovies - 03 June 2016 3:15 PM | Updated 3:56 PM

Movie Review: 'A Hologram For The King'

Our Rating

3/5 Stars

Through a body of work that spans the gamut from ‘Philadelphia’ and ‘Forrest Gump’ to ‘Apollo 13’ and ‘Saving Private Ryan’, Tom Hanks has proven himself to be a unique species of super-thespian.

One who is able not just to convey emotions to the audience member, but furthermore elicit various emotions from him or her by subtly tweaking his body language.

In ‘A Hologram For The King’, the stalwart plays crumbling decision-maker Alan Clay, who fights off the challenges that life assails him with like Cassius Clay, but is ultimately no stranger to having his hand forced, and is subsequently haunted by the resulting ramifications.

Set in the rapidly developing Saudi Arabia, Hanks’ straight man character Alan is juxtaposed by comedian Alexander Black, whose jocular conversations with Hanks gingerly poke at international politics.

“Would you support me?” Black’s Arab character Yousef asks Alan what the latter would do if the former were to start a coup for democracy, an undisguised metaphor for relations between Arab states and the United States.

“What would you do to support me?” Yousef further prods. Other comical cross-cultural scenes include a clandestine vice-saturated Viking party, hidden in the restrictive sands of one of the most conservative countries in the world.

Generously permeated with Tom Tykwer-style slider and wide shots, ‘A Hologram For The King’ is filmed in a certain Gonzo surrealist-style that intermittently breaks the monotony of reality.

Tykwer (‘Run Lola Run’), the movie’s self-indulgent writer and director, chronically splices in contextual 3- to 5-second scenes that deliver dramatic messages despite their brevity.

The two Toms most memorably teamed up in ‘Cloud Atlas’, where Tykwer directed parts of the extremely expensive independent film for the Wachowski brothers/sisters.

Bound to yield polarising sentiments, ‘A Hologram For The King’ labours to emphasise the contrast of the United States’ and Saudi Arabia’s cultures. Tykwer’s majestic scenes are evidently curated to evoke a yearning from the viewer to visit Arabia. “Everyone wants to be somewhere else,” quips Alan’s doctor, who gives him a new lease of life in more ways than one.

Alan immersing himself in the vast beauty of the clear Red Sea mirrors how this endearing novel by Dave Eggers soaks in the depth of Tykwer’s filmmaking experience. Please stop reading here if you are adequately convinced to watch this film.

The tension and the predicament of the plot do not persist for long, giving way mid-film to allow this charming story to unfold freely in unexpected directions.

Connoisseurs of good acting, nuanced scripts and breathtaking scenes might enjoy ‘A Hologram For The King’, but cinemagoers who are conditioned to expect tension and suspense in every film might be disappointed by this ambling motion picture.

Where is Alan’s reunion with his daughter?

Surely Alexander Black’s amiable character Yousef deserves a concluding scene and noble send-off, after the camera endears him so much to the audience?

‘A Hologram For The King’ is an anecdote of effecting positive change in one’s life, but lacks a bottom line suggesting how one can go about doing so.

‘A Hologram For The King’ opens 2 June 2016.

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  • A Hologram For The King 2016
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  • A Hologram For The King 2016
  • A Hologram For The King 2016
  • A Hologram For The King 2016
A Hologram For The King