Movie Review: The Circle is Far from Well Rounded

Movie Review: The Circle is Far from Well Rounded
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About the Author

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins is a thespian and performer who has worked with theatre, film, and TV across Ontario. He comes from Campbellton, NB, and has lived in North Oakville nearly 20 years. Currently, he studies Journalism at Sheridan College. Twitter: @MrTyCollins

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Circles are shapes synonymous with harmony, balance, and clear points. If this satisfied feeling and cohesion are some of your expectations for The Circle, prepare to be disappointed. You might as well read a translation dictionary; it would be far more eventful and exciting.

One of the main disappointments with the new drama thriller from James Ponsoldt (Smashed) is how tediously slow and boring it is. At nearly two hours, you expect something to happen in the setting or in the main character. Instead, most of it is star Emma Watson learning to get comfy in a new job at a tech company.

No creativity or innovation is anywhere near the action or the plot in the movie. The clever setup – a new tech giant starts attractively putting cameras everywhere and storing private footage – is wasted. It’s a promising thriller story that’s just a marketing ploy.

And the lack of enthusiasm is apparent. The choppy editing and long, awkward conversations move slower than watching paint drying. Even the starry cast is obviously bored. They’re doing their best with simple lines, but even pros like poor Tom Hanks and John Boyega are given far too little material.

You don’t need deep dramatic depths to make a good computer movie suspenseful and engaging. (Take The Matrix for example.) The company and it’s evil-corporate-Google vibes are just a background, however, and mean very little to the characters.

Photo: STX Entertainment.

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Some of the messages hammered into the audience are quite positive. (This includes strong ideas on how totalitarianism comes to be, and the dangers of allowing it.) There’s also a few entertaining scenes of conflict in the middle, but subplot distractions should never be the highlight of the movie.

But the biggest obstacle to enjoying any of the nifty sci-fi setting and gadgetry is how ludicrously unrealistic it all is. The dialogue and inventions are just familiar enough to be dorky, and the “crazy technology” is wildly insincere. This kind of low-budget thriller could be fun if it was silly, but it’s so damn serious it’s hard not to fall asleep.

When mixed together, there’s none of the “circular harmony” or “clear communication” the script mentions so much. In a movie all about transparency, it only takes about 15 minutes for viewers to see there’s nothing to hide…because there was no substance in the first place.

A specific audience of suspense-scrounging vultures may get a cheap thrill from this, but The Circle is far too shallow and misshapen to recommend positively. It’s quickly forgettable, and too rigid and inoffensive to bother anyone. So if it’s gripping Tom Hanks action you want, watch Saving Private Ryan instead. At least then everything comes around again in the end.

The Circle
1 1/2 out of 4 stars.

PG, 110 minutes. Drama Thriller.
Directed by James Ponsoldt.
Starring Emma Watson, Tom Hanks and John Boyega.
Now Playing at Film.Ca Cinemas, Cineplex Winston Churchill and Cineplex Oakville & VIP.

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