A Hologram for the King, Blu-ray (2016)

A memorable performance by Hanks as a salesman for a new holographic gadget for the King of Saudi Arabia.

A Hologram for the King, Blu-ray (2016)

Cast: Tom Hanks, Tom Skerrit, Sarita Choudhury, Ben Whishaw
Director: Tom Tykwer
Studio: Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate (8/9/16)
Video: 2.40:1 for 16:9 screens, HD color
Audio: English & Arabic – DTS-HD MA 5.1 or 2.0
Subtitles: English. English SDH, Spanish
Extras:  The Adaptation of A Hologram for the King, The Making of A  Hologram for the King
Length: 104 min.
Rating: *****

Hanks is Alan Clay, a recently-divorced middle-aged U.S. salesman pitching a holographic teleconferencing system to the king of Saudi Arabia. His past includes having been on the board at Schwinn bicycles, which he took to China, which turned out to be a mistake. He has a series of misadventures attempting to negotiate the new country’s unique customs and style. (At one point his driver takes him by a big crowd and he is told that is where the outdoor public executions take place.) He constantly works to see his contacts, who tell subordinates they will be in another day and are not. He works to get normal food and good Wi-Fi for his trio of young helpers, but often to no avail. The views of the Saudi surroundings are fascinating. He makes a comment about Lawrence of Arabia to a millennial, and of course she doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Clay discovers a big lump on his back which in the hospital turns out to be pre-cancerous and must be removed. He falls in love with his female doctor, who also is getting a divorce, and ends up staying in Saudi altho he loses the holographic bit to a Chinese competitor who can do it faster for half the price. Although he can’t get a beer at the fancy hotel, at the private homes and embassies there is plenty of liquor available. At her home the doctor is thoroughly Western in her ways, but I had a hard time accepting that she would swim with the Hanks character bare-breasted. I think Hollywood just stuck that in.

—John Sunier

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