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A Hologram for the King

1 h 38 min2016X-RayR
Set during the recession, a desperate businessman (Tom Hanks) in Saudi Arabia attempts to leave his mark on the world while fighting foreclosure and paying his daughter's tuition.
Tom Tykwer
Tom HanksAlexander Black
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Gero BauknechtClaudia BluemhuberBill JohnsonGastón PavlovichJim Seibel
R (Restricted)
Content advisory
Alcohol usefoul languagenuditysexual contentsmokingsubstance useviolence
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3.9 out of 5 stars

1477 global ratings

  1. 51% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 17% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 15% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 7% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 10% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

Amazon FanReviewed in the United States on August 14, 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
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I guess my husband and I saw a different movie than most of the other reviewers! We found this movie to be uniquely intriguing and an absolute journey into an unknown situation, just as Tom Hanks was experiencing. We did not find it to be political or a travelogue any more than his character did. He portrayed a middle aged man who was going through a difficult time in his life. His working situation only emphasized how out of sync he was with the real person inside. It was not a loud, spectacle with a crash or killing every 30 seconds. It was thought provoking and actually encourages self-reflection.
267 people found this helpful
John P. Jones IIIReviewed in the United States on December 15, 2021
1.0 out of 5 stars
Silly, unrealistic, deeply embarrassing and without purpose…
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Tom Hanks should be deeply ashamed of himself. Enough so, that I’ll say it again: Tom Hanks should be deeply ashamed of himself. “My” hero, and that of many others, from “Forrest Gump,” which was released in 1994, and dealt incisively with numerous quintessential American themes. From the brilliant performance in “Forrest Gump” to the culture-deaf one in Hologram… wasn’t it a long way down?

Tom Tykwer directed “Hologram…” which was released in 2016, based on a novel by David Eggers, which was published in 2012. How could Hanks have not asked himself: is this at all realistic? And how many parachute journalist cliches can be dumped into one movie? It is unclear if Hanks has ever been to Saudi Arabia. The credits indicate that the movie was filmed on location Germany, Morocco, Egypt, the USA and Saudi Arabia.

In the movie, at least, Hanks goes to Saudi Arabia. He is down-on-his-luck, recently divorced, with a daughter to help support, and he is without a home. He needs to close “the big sale,” and is to make a presentation to the King of Saudi Arabia about the IT package his company can deliver in conjunction with the opening of a new city in the desert. Can you imagine President Biden sitting through a vendor IT presentation to revamp, for example, the computer systems in the Pentagon? Never happen, G.I. Likewise, the King of Saudi Arabia does not sit through IT presentations, even if designed to dazzle the natives in their colorful costumes, like producing a hologram of an individual.

Consider that this is “the big sale,” not only for Hanks, but for his company. He knows so little about the customs and laws of the Kingdom that he calls the hotel front desk and asks that a beer be sent to his room. Yeah. His Saudi driver forgets to take the correct turn for “non-Muslims” and is suddenly in downtown Makkah (Mecca). No hint that in real life there is a very real checkpoint to prevent such “mistakes.” Naturally, en route there, they drive past the mosque where “the beheadings take place.”

Ah, just suppose one is a bedpost notcher, by nationality. At the apex of this game, surely, is a Saudi woman. Earlier, Hanks indicates that, well, he is a bit non-functional and a Danish woman bluntly offers him a traditional time-honored cure. And he turns her down! Rather, he seems to be “saving himself” for the Saudi woman, who is in the throes of her own divorce.

They meet because she is his medical doctor (another highly unlikely to impossible scenario). She is played by Sarita Choudhury, a British national, of half English, half Indian ethnicity. She once played the lead role in “Mississippi Masala.” They end up at her absolutely gorgeous villa, without any walls, on the Red Sea, and somehow her kids are nowhere to be seen. Soon she is swimming topless in the Red Sea, with him, purportedly so that the neighbors might think she is a man!! Hum. Nonetheless, there is something delightful about a woman of a certain age still willing to pop off the top and let the water and his gaze envelope her. If you must see this movie, please consider fast forwarding to this memorable scene. With only the slightest imagination, the viewer could envision the offer of the Danish woman being fulfilled, a thought that at least saves this movie from the oblivion of no stars, and thus, 1-star, with apologies to my Saudi friends for yet another movie devoid of any realistic understanding of the fascinating subject of Saudi-Western interactions.
2 people found this helpful
Steve BenedictReviewed in the United States on May 22, 2021
4.0 out of 5 stars
Worth a watch
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Regarding some of the other reviews. The film made us think about globalization and big business. Yes, China historically was very advanced indeed, but all countries have their ups and downs: decades of communist socialism damaged China. It is now certainly doing very well, but part of the reason is they have stolen intellectual property. That's just a fact that is unrelated to their amazing history.

Another review objected to the "xenophobia": it appears that many believe that we should see the very real faults in ourselves, but regard other countries as being perfect. They are not. There are some real advantages to being American, and anybody who has lived elsewhere knows that.

Did the romance have insufficient basis in the film? Yes, I think so. When there is immediate attraction, there has to be something superficial about it--at least initially. The usual scenario is a young, beautiful woman (sex object), and a very successful man (success object): that was not the case was good to see the male lead fall for a woman more or less his own age. But it did result in insufficient relationship development.

The acting was good.
One person found this helpful
Gerard BriardyReviewed in the United States on May 18, 2021
2.0 out of 5 stars
Story is full of holes, questionable cultural references
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The story made no sense. Hanks character meets Saudi female doctor by chance, she meets him 2 or 3 times over a minor medical issue, they then fall in love, with no other reason for doing so? Of course she speaks flawless English, as does his cab driver. Somehow this is all mixed up with a strange sub-plot about how hard it is to make a sales pitch to the king. Saudi Arabia is made to look like a very strange place, which may or may not be true, but I guess this is meant to fill in the holes. Not sure why they call this a "comedy", it is not funny. Hanks is always worth watching. He saves this from 1 star. I kept waiting for it to get better. It never does.
One person found this helpful
MikeMReviewed in the United States on August 15, 2021
3.0 out of 5 stars
Fairly Realistic Although Slow to Get Moving
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Having done business in and visited KSA several times, I can vouch for the depiction of the atmosphere, bureaucracy and some of the social norms. However Hanks' portrayal of the bumbling American was to me not very believable - I found him quite irritating at times.

To respond to another reviewer's comment about language, when I was there, I found that many people - including taxi drivers do speak very good English (a lot better than my Arabic) and are basically good, approachable people with their own lives in their own culture. One "Careem" (=uber) driver I met was a college student during the day, worked at a restaurant in the evenings and drove for Careem late at night. I had to admire his work ethic and perfect English.

The plot and romantic devices were a bit contrived and maybe took a few shortcuts but overall, not completely unbelievable.
N.A.CrawfordReviewed in the United States on September 16, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
A journey for business that turns to something more.....
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I was really glad to see this as a Prime Movie last night and boy, did it hold my fascination. You have this American, Alan Clay. 50ish, travelling to Saudi Arabia to seal a deal with the King of Saudi Arabia to purchase a hologram by the company he represents. He gets there but keeps missing the shuttle to get to the place where the rest of his team is, and he ends up getting a driver, Hassan, who is a likeable and interesting driver, with a situation of his own(he's having an affair/flirtation with a young wife of a very older man). Clay meets with his team, but they encounter problems and the point of contact who is there for them, is not in town. However, with persistence and pluck, he eventually gets the things he needs as well as eventually as an audience with King Abdullah. While he is there, he finds he has a lump on his back so he goes to the doctor, where the doctor is a she(Sharita Chowdry) and reserved, He also goes into the mountains where Hasan is from and has an interesting time as well as a tour of Mecca(by mistake). When Clay sees the temple that the travelers go and is in awe, he is asked NOT to see it. The movie overall has kept my interest.
8 people found this helpful
Steven Mcintire AllenReviewed in the United States on May 9, 2021
3.0 out of 5 stars
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This is a cute movie, but there is a thinly veiled theme of xenophobia, which is a bit surprising because the movie encourages interracial relationships.

One example of the xenophobia is when the Hanks character laments 'how we taught the Chinese to make good bicycles and then they stole our business.' Americans frequently wax poetic about all the Chinese have learned from America. While Europeans were still grovelling in caves, the Chinese had the most civilised, urbane culture on earth. For example “seven centuries before Gutenberg,” the Chinese had movable type printing presses (see John Keay. “China”). Nonetheless, Americans don't teach that in their schools and this movie does a good job of parroting typical American propaganda.
One person found this helpful
Deaf GypsyReviewed in the United States on May 24, 2017
4.0 out of 5 stars
Refreshingly Real...
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I thoroughly enjoyed watching this film, A HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING, had no idea what I was to expect and it was a pleasant outcome. I truly felt like a tourist and actually learned a few things with the Arabian culture - no joking allowed - some individuals may take things literally sometimes; non-Muslims are not allowed to see the Holy City; women not allowed to be alone with a male; and much more. It was so refreshing to see how business is run in a very new city --- I was awed of how expansive the rooms were: hotels, lobbies, operating room - everything is so huge due to a lot of land to spread out. It actually had me mentally asking more questions in how they run things in their country. At last but not the least, it was so refreshing to see an unexpected (spoiler warning!) romance developing - I really didn't see that coming and I'm quite skilled in predicting plots --- what was refreshing was it's for 50 years old lovers --- finally humans around my age-- usually Hollywood movies just show teenagers or very young adults which I'm so bored of now, enough of these immature perky high schoolers frollicking around - the tenderness, the realness was authentic looking. Well done Tom Hanks and the rest of the cast mates... thank you for the great story.
20 people found this helpful
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