Somewhere in the desert wasteland of the construction site in Saudi Arabia where we spend most of our time, is a beautiful character study and a good story but it never seems to surface. Like the lump on Tom Hank’s back in this film, it acts as a cruel metaphor for this film that feels more irritating than anything else. Its abrupt ending certainly doesn’t help matters either and what we get is a rather frustrating experience.
The story follows American businessman Alan Cay (Tom Hanks), a man down on his luck who hopes for a fresh start with a business venture in the middle east. Unfortunately, when he arrives things turn from bad to worse and Alan soon finds himself juggling with the local culture and bureaucracy as he tries to get his business, and his life, in order.
Its plot has potential and there are some interesting juxtapositions between the hopeless feel of the harsh desert and Alan’s own personal life where he struggles with depression and connecting with his family back home. It all feels a little too clever for its own good and watching it, you do sense something is going to happen to inject some pace in this drama. Frustratingly, it just never happens and what we’re left with is a film that feels akin to going uphill in a roller coaster but never seeing the pay-off of going back down.
Tom Hanks is, of course, ever charismatic and watchable in his role and he does a great job with the material he’s given. Alongside a cast of pretty good supporting characters, the film does a good job of painting a man out of his depth and comfort zone in a strange world. This part of the film is done really well and is arguably the best takeaway.
Behind this 100 minute, pace less drama is a light-hearted character study about dealing with depression and connecting with others but its lost in a plot that never feels it pays off. The film’s abrupt ending doesn’t help either and what’s left is a film that desperately needs an injection of pace and a better direction. Tom Hanks is great in his role and there are pockets of good storytelling but they’re lost in the endless, harsh desert of mediocrity.
Verdict - 2/10