“The Circle” Never Comes Full Circle

the circle

“The Circle” is written and directed by James Ponsoldt and stars Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, Ellar Coltrane, and John Boyega.  The film is based on the novel by Dave Eggers and is about a girl who gets her dream job working at The Circle, a tech company that is focused on changing the world and humanity as they know it.

I was incredibly excited to see this film, as the trailers looked very intriguing and held a strong premise along with a star-studded cast.  I also am a big fan of James Ponsoldt’s work, as both “The End of the Tour” and, even more so, “The Spectacular Now” are superbly directed films, so coming in I was hoping for a thought-provoking drama with some thrills thrown in.

The Good

The performances were, for the most part, very good, with Tom Hanks being the real standout from the bunch. Hanks, while not in the film all that much, is tremendous in his role as one of the higher ups in the company.  Hanks is, in some ways, one of the villains of the film, and to see him play this devious, Steve Jobs style role was great to watch, and Hanks is as good as always here.  Emma Watson is also very good, aside from a few accent slip-ups, as she maintains a solid performance while being the main focus of attention nearly the entire runtime.

The late Bill Paxton is tremendous in his minor role here, which is great to see considering this may be the last role we ever see from this incredible actor.  Paxton tackles a difficult character to play here, and he is nearly unrecognizable in his transformation in some scenes, and I found his character to be a very smart wrinkle in the story.

I really enjoyed many of the concepts involving the company itself, with the themes of corporation and privacy coming in major with many of the elements involving The Circle.  These ideas, when used correctly, were easily the best concepts in the film, as seeing Watson go further and further into this company was quite exciting to watch.

At the least, a lot of what James Ponsoldt does here makes this concept an entertaining one to watch, with the company continually going more and more extensively into this theme of gaining intelligence, and while the movie loses me on some of its story elements, this was a rather enjoyable film to watch for most of the runtime.

The Bad

I wanted this movie to be a heck of a lot more than simply an entertaining movie to watch, and, sadly, “The Circle” settles for exactly that.  Many of the themes promised in the trailers are just not well executed, and left me wondering where this film even stands on the topics it discusses with such length.

There is no real climax at any point in the film, no real solid resolution, and nothing to leave the film wondering about, and that is a real shame.  Ponsoldt has done such tremendous work on strong themes in both of his past two films, but he just misses the ball so hard here.  I kept waiting for that moment to grab me and bring all of these really great ideas into the mix, but that never happens, and it just left me annoyed more than anything by the conclusion.

John Boyega is good in this film, but his character is not.  There is a lot of promise the more Boyega’s character develops, but then we basically never see Boyega again, and the movie completely wastes what could have been a very intriguing element to the storyline. Ellar Coltrane’s character fails to deliver as well, but this one I will pin on the actor.  Coltrane shined in “Boyhood”, but that is such a unique film that I wasn’t sure if he could bring it to movies outside of Linklater’s incredible project, and it turns out he can’t, at least not here.

Conclusion

“The Circle” is a pretty fun watch, and occasionally shows some smart ideas through the great performances of Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, and Bill Paxton.  Sadly, there is also a lot to be disappointed about, as many of the great concepts promised in the trailer fall apart, as this movie tries to bite off more than it can chew instead of staying focused on one singular idea and doing it well.  The movie also never reaches a climax and fails to leave on a strong point, as “The Circle” can’t handle the important ideas that it is based on.

Badge-4.5

Get tickets and showtimes for “The Circle” here

What do you think of “The Circle”?  Comment below with your thoughts.


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