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Ryan Bingham travels around the country (and a bit of the world) to sack people. He is a mercenary of the economic downturn, his company is eating off the flesh of corporate carcasses. He himself is quite pleasant at it, he has the skill to express sympathy and show the bright light on the horizon. His passion is travelling, is being on the move, feeling like a shark that is in danger of dying as soon as he stops. The change comes with two women he meets: the new kid in the office who seeks to get rid of all the travelling expenses by introducing a remote sacking software – and a mature woman of style with whom he can swap frequent-flyer stories and body fluids.

At last a film that only and exclusively serves as a vehicle for George Clooney’s essence: charm and handsomeness. It is a clever understanding of what charm is really about to set these features loose in a job to serve as a hired hand systematically sacking employees of companies that “are too much of a pussy to do it themselves”. Charm is not, this states, about seducing a woman who wants to sleep with you anyway, but about creating an atmosphere of comfort where all facts point to despair.
The film is far from perfect: some elements get forgotten over time, such as (thankfully) the annoying teenage assistant that starts traveling with him to learn and improve the system. The philosopher’s side of his lifestyle also gets a lot of attention at the beginning, and gets picked up occasionally, but it is never really elaborated why it is that we are supposed to respect what he is doing instead of just shrugging it off as something some people do, others don’t. Why would we care that he states he wants to live alone and flexible? That’s only relevant insofar as it concerns us, and it only concerns us when he needs to discuss the virtues of partnership and marriage in a scene where he suddenly needs to play the devil’s advocate, trying to talk his potential brother-in-law into a marriage, while standing as a role-model for marriage being superfluous. More of that quality would have been nice.
With its generally light touch and pleasant humour, the film is nice enough to never drop us from too great a height into the less pleasant moments, and even the almost final turning point is cushioned and prepared in a way that we do not feel to shocked when we realise what is happening. I would have appreciated a more cruel approach, especially as the life Ryan Bingham leads is one that is built on absence of empathy, but the mere simulation of it. But then again, now it’s a family-friendly warm-hearted film, almost a rom-com with a little bit of an edge.
And that guy looks so gorgeous! (nice cameo by the narrator from “Big Lebowski”, by the way, good to see you again)

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3 Comments

  1. Hi Thomas. Just to let you know, I awarded your blog the Kreativ Blogger award on my blog. šŸ™‚

  2. I feel honoured, thanks! (even though I just read all the instructions of sharing and feel overwhelmed… I decided to procrastinate a bit, only a bit … ;-))

  3. Haha! I'm very much into procrastinating…I do it more or less every day so go ahead!


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