A Hologram for the King (2016)


If you’re going to have a midlife crisis, have it in a country thousands of miles from home while you’re on a career-saving business trip and make sure to have a medical emergency that requires the services of a beautiful native doctor who’s also freshly divorced. Tom Hanks stars in this adaptation of Dave Eggers’ novel which enquires about globalisation, out-sourcing and the destruction of American industry. Which sounds very dull – except this is very personal. Hanks is on a hiding to nothing, as it were, with a local taxi driver ferrying him to and from a tent (literally) outside where the action is really happening in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and little does he know that his and his colleagues’ brilliant innovation is being tendered in a competition in what seemed a done deal. He has flashbacks occasioned by his daughter’s internet contact, constant jet lag not helped by the alcohol furnished by Sidse Babett Knudsen (how I prefer her voice in English) and when he performs a drunken surgery on that vicious lump on his back it’s the wonderful Sarita Choudhury who intervenes. Tom Tykwer directed as well as writing, and his career continues to confuse:  he started with a masterpiece in Winter Sleepers, had a monster hit with the fashionable Run Lola Run …and is on this peripatetic path with this Mexican co-production. If it’s not action-packed, that’s relief, of a kind. Big issues but on a human level. And Hanks? Give him the phone directory, and I’m there. What do you mean there’s no such thing any more? Sheesh.