A Hologram For The King | ★★★☆☆
Tom Hanks is enjoying something of a renaissance, courting Oscar once again with both Captain Phillips and last year’s Spielberg reunion Bridge of Spies. His new film, based on the 2012 Dave Eggers novel, sees him playing a charismatic American businessman looking to seal a tech deal in a developing city in Saudi Arabia. Along the way he wrestles with local customs, bonds with a taxi driver and forges a connection with a beautiful doctor.
The plot is a somewhat listless wander through the desert, providing all the excitement you would expect from a film about putting together a business presentation. There’s some culture clash laughs to be found, but the real treasure is in Hanks’ performance. The actor knows how to do likeable (he’s been doing it for 30 years), so it’s no surprise that even though his trials are relatively mundane – ambling through a party at the Danish embassy, accidentally convincing a passing local that he's part of the CIA – he’s never less than engaging. This is unlikely to be remembered among the actor's best, but it’s a feel-good frolic for those who admire his easy charm.