Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Circle (2017)

DIRECTOR: James Ponsoldt


James Ponsoldt
Dave Eggers


Emma Watson
Tom Hanks
Ellar Coltrane
Karen Gillan
John Boyega
Bill Paxton
Glenne Headly
Nate Corddry
Patton Oswalt
Ellen Wong


Mae manages to secure an interview at the largest and most powerful tech company in the world called The Circle. They specialise in Social Media and are on the brink of going global with their latest video surveillance experiment. As Mae begins to rise up through the ranks of the corporation, she soon realises that this new experiment may breach the boundaries of ethics and privacy. She will also sacrifice her own personal freedom in the process.

When I originally watched the trailer for The Circle, I remember being excited about this movie. The movie has a great cast, a solid director at the helm and the premise seemed rather interesting. The movie came into theatres and went without making much of a splash. I sort of forgot about the film altogether. It wasn't until recently while making my way through my list of current movies to watch and review that I came across The Circle again.

Before diving into the movie, I decided to watch the trailer for the film to make sure that it was indeed a thriller and it fits in with the genres that I watch and review on the blog. As I sat and watched the trailer. It slowly builds the suspense, and all comes crashing together with Emma Watson letting out a pretty horrific scream. I was all but convinced that I'd be watching a thriller about how far a corporation will go to spy on its staff and keep those from spilling their sinister secrets. This sounded up my alley.

Looking at the critic and audience reviews for The Circle, it would be enough to scare anyone off. The movie currently holds a very rotten 17% on the website. I decided to still go into this with an open mind and hope that this was another case of the critics being wrong, which most of the time they are. My taste seems to be very different to a lot of people, and I find that I enjoy a lot of the films that they don't seem to enjoy. I went in and hoped that my love of the actors in this film would give me something special. I sadly found this to be disappointing.

Anyone that goes into The Circle expecting a dark thriller with something to say about how far the company is willing to go to and spy on the world and their employees will need to look elsewhere. The Circle has a very intriguing story at its core, but it's sadly not utilised. While the film does try and touch on the aspect of a company having the ability to watch over and spy on every corner of the globe and to track down killers and terrorists. It does feel like they don't take that plot point all the way. It felt like they were heading in that direction only to abandon it after one failure.

For a company like The Circle to have such a charismatic and well-liked CEO as Tom Hanks's Bailey. I thought we were going to witness a much darker Tom Hanks here. I thought we may have seen him tackle a sinister villain but instead, his role feels very limited and underused here. The focus while being on Emma Watson's Mae, I wanted her to challenge Bailey, and while she does towards the end of the film, it still felt like they spent so much time showing her moving up the ranks of the company to give us just one minute of confrontation. There was no threat.

Another problem that I think audiences will have with The Circle is with the writing of our main character. The movie sets out to build up Mae as this person who we can all relate to and when she starts to believe that the company is crossing that inevitable line. They go and suddenly abandon that and turn her into everything that she was against and stood for as a human. She becomes someone who turns her back on all those closest to her, and it feels like they completely alienate the audience. It's only made worse when the writers try and give us another turn for the good towards the end credits only for it to feel a little bit too late.

With a movie that is labelled as a thriller. The Circle is neither suspenseful or thrilling. This movie starts to build, and I started to feel like the movie might head into darker territory, but it never does. The movie also just suddenly ends. It leaves us with more questions than it answers. There is a lot going on in this film with additional subplots that never really get resolved. I haven't read the source material, so I can't compare the film to the book, but this feels almost unfinished, or like they may have planned on a sequel. So many loose ends not tied up.

What The Circle does right is that this is a visually impressive film. I thought the film looked great for the most part. The entire company base of The Circle was fantastic. The entire time that I was watching the film, I was jealous that I wasn't working for the company or at this site. I thought the movie had an almost futuristic and science fiction type of feel to it. The only moments that I was let down by the visuals were a couple of poorly constructed CGI shots involving a drone and a car crash. Other than those two moments, the film looked great.

Lastly, the acting, for the most part, is solid. I thought Emma Watson did a good job in her role even if her character is unlikeable. I think that falls back on the screenplay, though. I think Tom Hanks is underused. I would have loved to see him play someone dark and sinister but sadly, he's regular Tom Hanks here. Patton Oswalt is also great as another higher-up in The Circle. The stand out for me is Karen Gillan who seems to get the most to do with her acting range. I felt so sorry for her character in the film. Like Tom Hanks, John Boyega and Ellar Coltrane are underused.



- A drone collides with a car windshield sending it over a bridge.

There is no blood or gore in this film.

The Circle is a missed opportunity. It's made only worse that the movie actually has a pretty interesting story at its core yet doesn't utilise any of it. With a chance to delve deeper into this world of social media and this very sinister corporation which plans to unleash an experiment that has the ability to spy on the entire population on a global scale is sadly never realised here. The movie lacks thrills and suspense, and half the talented cast is underused. While visually impressive and watchable, this really isn't a movie that I'd see returning to more than once.


  1. Just watched this and I agree with your views. I think if it had a much more dark and sinister turn of events or even a plan of revenge on the corporation or take down, would have at least amped up some entertainment...instead the idea of total non-disclosure and no privacy whatsoever? Why is that a good idea at all?

    Would have really loved to see more of John Boyega's character too. Loved Karen Gillan's performance (what little we did get to see).
    Also once I realised Mae's Dad is Bill Paxton, I got a little sad.

    This film has an interesting plot, it's just not executed and feels like it missed it's own potential. An alright watch, to get off a watchlist but not really memorable.

    1. Yeah, this would have maybe worked better as a Netflix 4-Part series. They could have gone incredibly dark with this but they didn't have enough time to fit all of what could have been into an hour and forty minutes. I would have loved to see Tom Hanks go really evil.