Twyker has an interesting resume, between the fast-paced action of Run, Lola, Run, the romantic drama of The Princess and the Warrior, a period piece like Perfume: Story of a Murderer and the epic fantasy of Cloud Atlas. Here, he switches it up with a dramedy based on a book of the same title (written by Dave Eggers), anchored by one of Hollywood’s most reliable leads, Tom Hanks. He plays Alan Clay, a salesman stranded in Saudi Arabia, waiting to make a landmark IT presentation to the King. He struggles to understand the culture and customs, tries to keep his team focused while they wait, and meets a host of interesting characters along the way.
The film meanders a bit, and it seems to be done intentionally, to give you the same sense of frustration and confusion that Clay must feel as he is repeatedly lied to about his next appointment, his team’s living conditions, etc. By the time he “gets his groove back,” so does the film. By the time his team is finally allowed to wow the royal family with their hologram presentation and it seems to go swimmingly well, you want to cheer right along with them. That feeling is amplified when, despite cultural differences, Clay is allowed to make some real, deep connections on a personal level. It’s a sweet picture, and while not one that’s terribly rewarding, it does contain a great message. Culture shock can be overwhelming, and while we often have oceans of differences between us, shared humanity can act as a damn dependable life raft that can keep us all afloat. In that way, the film may be more admirable than memorable.
Currently available on Amazon Prime.