A Hologram for the King Blu-ray Review

While I’m sure people will by the end of this year people will be about Tom Hank’s work in SULLY or INFERNO, he managed to a wonderful job in a little unheard of movie that seems to have been swept under the rug by Lionsgate called A HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING. It’s an interesting movie, but not an outstanding movie, and it certainly doesn’t match the acting bravado that Hanks brings to the table. But if there was ever a movie that rests on the shoulders of an actor, with the actor unflinchingly carrying it and making it worth your time, it’s this movie.

A Hologram for the King

A HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING is about Alan (Hanks) in 2010. He’s an American salesman that’s in Saudi Arabia, hoping to sell some holographic teleconference equipment to the Saudi government. The Saudi King is working on an economic development called the King’s Metropolis, a modern city that’ll act as an oasis in the middle of nowhere. It’s an attempt by the corrupt government to alleviate cities that are inundated with poor people and another attempt to bolster and attract business to the Middle Eastern country.

A Hologram for the King

Alan simply wants a piece of the growing pie, but only because he has nowhere else to go after a devastating series of events during the 2007 financial collapse. He loses his home, his job, most of his money, and his wife in a divorce. So it’s understandable that he’s looking to reboot his life. But he’s hinging all his bets, on this Saudi Arabian deal, despite no meeting with the king or a prince, a famished IT staff, vivid nightmares, and a potentially cancerous lump that grows on his spine.

A Hologram for the King

A HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING attempts to make the general audience feel empathy for the washed out American businessman who’s trying to make sense of his life and create a financial future for his daughter off at college. I don’t know if it’s a general disdain for failed capitalists or the movie’s fault that I genuinely don’t care about what happens to Alan. He’s never really portrayed as an anti-hero or traditional good guy hero. I do know for a fact that the movie’s main flaw has nothing to do with Tom Hanks.

Despite a fun, fast-paced style, we’re never given a reason to feel sad or encouraged by the developments of Alan in A HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING. The movie quickly glosses over what led him down this horrendous path in life without ever establishing if he’s worth rooting for or a genuine human being lost in the economic rat race of cutthroat businessmen. Maybe it’s all of the above, but I must reiterate again, it’s not Tom Hanks. At first I thought he set his acting skills on cruise control, but he is living and breathing Alan’s misery. Alan is content with the state of desolation is conveyed through Hank’s melancholia.

A Hologram for the King

As the movie progresses, Hank portrays an interesting mix of resilience in Alan, while allowing the growing signs of depression envelop his character, causing confusing nightmares to become unsettling realities. I love that director Tom Tykwer was attached to this since his previous movies like RUN LOLA, RUN and CLOUD ATLAS are ambitious works of art that are deserving of multiple viewings to appreciate the depth and layers. Sadly A HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING is not one of those. It’s still a wonderful movie highlighting Tykwer’s style and Hank’s uncanny ability to take everything he does to the next level.


Video: (1080p Widescreen 2:39:1) The movie is always awash in shots of the desolate desert, but the specs of color that pop out of the sand come through clearly on this blu-ray.

Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The audio is wonderfully mixed on this blu-ray, even though the soundtrack never really pops or sticks out.

The Making of A HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING (19:56): Features interviews, mainly with the director, about the making of this movie. He’s an interesting interview and really carries the piece.

From Novel to Screen: The Adaptation of A HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING (11:53): Seemingly apart of the same interview with the director, focusing on adapting the book that this movie is based on.

Perfecting the Culture (10:14): An interesting feature about how they tried to replicate Saudi Arabia and the environment, which ranges from classy and rich to devastatingly poor.

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