It has become very clear that Tom Hanks is heading into the tail end of his career. For a very long time it was a guarantee that a Hanks film was gonna be something special and more than likely one of the best movies of the year. For a good twelve years or so, between 1993 and 2004 Hanks stared in a serious of films that ranged from masterpieces to great. Then came The Da Vinci Code ended that epic streak. Since that point Hanks has been hit or miss (mind you more hit than miss), tying his hands at things like directing and staring (Larry Crowne Hanks worst movie to date) and Oscar fair with mixed success (for every Bridge of Spies or Captain Phillips there was a Extremely Loud and Incredibly Loud to balance things out). However with every project you could see why Hanks would be interested in that story or character.
A Hologram for the King is no exception. Director Tom Tykwer is well known for his flashy innovative style of film making having directed Run Lola Run and Cloud Atlas, which also started Hanks. Factor in that with the fact that Tykwer is working off a screenplay based on a novel by Dave Eggers, who many believe to be are greatest living author. So it really isn’t hard to see what drew Hanks to this project.
Unfortunately despite the huge pool of talent involved in this film, it comes up short from being a good film. The story just doesn’t transfer well to the big screen and doesn’t have enough to keep the audiences attention for its running time.
Hanks plays Alan a washed up American sales representative, who travels to Saudi Arabia trying to sell holographic teleconferencing system to the kings in that country. Alan is struggling with his recent divorce and lose of his house and is trying to make this big sale to bring him back to the promise land. Of course he is met with many road blocks along the way.
The problem really is that Hank’s Alan isn’t really given much to do, other than driving back and forth from his hotel to his test site for his equipment. This makes way for a much more interesting character named Yousef (Alexander Black) who is Alan’s taxi driver, who is in fear of his life because he has double crossed someone who now wants to kill him. Yousef brings some much needed humor and life to the otherwise very dry film.
We are also introduced to a doctor named Zahra (Sarita Choudhury) who looks at Alan’s massive bump on his back. They begin to build a friendship that may or may not be a bit more than meets the eye.
The film has some wonderful photography being filmed in Morocco and we get some glorious desert and ocean shots. It is much more fascinating than what is going on, on screen most of the time.
I can’t blame anyone for trying to make this film. We really haven’t had much of Egger’s work turned into film yet and I am sure that is something many have long waited for. However perhaps this wasn’t the right choice to start with. Its a very basic story, with some decent acting and not much more to really go on. I can’t picture anyone actually enjoying, without quickly finding it to dull and boring. Its a worthy effort but it just didn’t pan out.