"When Mae (Emma Watson) is hired to work for the world’s largest and most powerful tech and social media company, she sees it as an opportunity of a lifetime. As she rises through the ranks, she is encouraged by the company’s founder, Eamon Bailey (Tom Hanks), to engage in a groundbreaking experiment that pushes the boundaries of privacy, ethics, and ultimately, her personal freedom. Her participation in the experiment and every decision she makes begin to affect the lives and future of her friends, family, and all of humanity." That is the official description for The Circle, now available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital from Lionsgate, which has provided NewTechReview with a NFR copy for review.
We all know that the world is not a safe place and we want to feel protected and secure. However, the only way to be completely secure is to also be completely transparent, which means totally relinquishing our privacy. That is sort of the main tone of The Circle, although it has a number of others and can't seem to focus on just one in particular. It also touches on social media and trolling, and what can happen when they are taken to extremes. It touches as well on corporate and political corruption, and the role of companies in today's society. Labelled as a modern thriller, it unfortunately doesn't focus well enough on any one theme to really be thrilling at all.
The Circle starts off well enough by introducing the character of Mae who is presented with a wonderful career opportunity and doesn't mind conforming to a few rules in order to fit in and advance. As time goes on, however, some of the things she agrees to do in terms of her personal privacy seem far-fetched. I personally don't know anyone who would give up so much of their privacy just to keep their job. The ending also seems implausible, at least it would be if it were to happen today. Maybe the future will be different, but hopefully not.
The Blu-ray version of The Circle is presented as a MPEG-4 AVC encode with an aspect ratio of 2.40:1. The picture provides very sharp and detailed visuals with a color palette that is neither dull or vibrant, but works well here. For audio, we get a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track with clear dialogue and an overall general use of surround. Since this isn't an action film, there's not much call for ambience, but it does come into play during the outdoor scenes.
The Circle includes three bonus features as follows:
* No More Secrets: Completing The Circle - a four-part featurette that provides an interesting look at the production of the film
* The Future Won't Wait: Design and Technology - a featurette that talks about the technology in the film.
* A True Original: Remembering Bill Paxton - unfortunately, Bill Paxton passed away before the film was released and this featurette talks about Bill and his career, and includes some commentary from Tom Hanks.
With the advent of companies implanting ID chips into employees (voluntarily, of course), it's somewhat worrying that some (or all) of the themes presented in The Circle could actually come true. However, the film itself doesn't provide any kind of sufficient suspense to make it a real thriller. It does provide an interesting look at what the world might be like if we all decide to give up our privacy, so you may want to give it a go for that aspect.
For more information, visit:
* Amazon: http://amzn.to/2slGcx0
* Website: lionsgate.com