THE CIRCLE (2017) REVIEW

5/04/2017 07:32:00 PM


With such huge ideas and thought-provoking theme, The Circle should have been one of the most intriguing techno-thriller this year. But it ends up otherwise. So what went wrong?



The Circle begins with Mae (Emma Watson), a smart, beautiful young woman who is struggling to find a better job to support her family. One day, her best friend, Annie (Karen Gillan), brings a good news for Mae that she has been scheduled to do a job interview at The Circle, the biggest tech-company in the world. And of course, she nails the interview. 

But things are getting messy (which, ironically, also happen on the movie itself), when her new boss, Bailey (Tom Hanks), launches a new camera technology that’s integrated with his social app, The Circle, to fulfill his obsession to control the world with full openness and wipe people’s privacy for good.


Truth to be told, The Circle starts with a bang. The set-up and its thought-provoking theme are undeniably promising to become another hit for writer / director James Ponsoldt (the guy who brought you Sundance hit 'The Spectacular Now'). Unfortunately, the end product is so ridiculous it almost feels like a Google’s April Fools joke. The script relies heavily on ‘what if’ concept to tell its story. What if the government agree. What if the people agree. What if social media is a terrorism device. What if the world doesn’t want you to have privacy anymore. But with such huge theme, it never goes beyond that ‘what if’ barrier, because everything just happens so easily and exclusively in one big building, The Circle Headquarters, without any notable struggle or conflict in the process. As a result, the whole movie feels like a tedious, pointless first act, where the second and third act never came to fruition until the credits title suddenly appears on the screen and the light illuminates your disappointed, startled faces.

Even the character arc is unbelievably messy. They don’t have clear purposes. They aren’t sympathetic. They even don’t react or have emotions like a normal human being, which make them all look like a weird, creepy cyborg (maybe that’s the intention? Nobody knows). There are also lots of wasted supporting characters, like John Boyega’s I-don’t-know-what-the-hell-is-he-doing character, or Patton Oswalt’s mysterious Stenton, or Karen Gillan’s Annie who magically disappear and reappear to be a “drug addict” without any explanation other than the audience’s guesses. It’s just so poorly written that even big stars like Tom Hanks and Emma Watson couldn’t save it at all. 


One notable thing that kept me interested to finish the whole movie is the theme and the big ‘what if’ ideas they frequently put on the screen. The social media addiction, internet bullying, internet posers, and live apps like Instagram Story or Snapchat that have already been questioning the user’s privacy since its inception, are all relatable to our current condition. For the majority of the movie, The Circle tries so hard to predict the future by putting those social media apps on steroid, but decides to leave those ideas behind when it finally comes to the explanation parts. Most of those ideas are very intriguing and thought-provoking, don’t get me wrong. But in the end, an under-developed idea, no matter how good it is, is just… an unfulfilled potential.


Verdict: With such huge ideas and thought-provoking theme, The Circle should have been one of the most intriguing techno-thriller this year. But it ends up to be another huge disappointments, either for sci-fi fans or regular audience who were anticipating a decent thriller from its impressive cast and the talents behind.


Rating: 2 out of 5 stars



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