SYNOPSIS: Ryan Bingham travels around the country firing employees as a termination proxy. His preferred way of live, living out of a suitcase and in the air, is threatened when his company decides to ground him in favor of a teleconferencing solution.
The director of "Juno" and "Thank You For Smoking" brings us a bleak perspective of our current economic state via George Clooney as Ryan Bingham who travels the country to fire employees on behalf of their bosses. We are witness to many of Ryan's firings throughout the first half of the movie, leading me to wonder which of these soon-to-be former employee types I would be. Would I become enraged for the dismissal after years of service? Would I become quickly despondent and burst into years with the realization that I do not know what lies ahead? Or would I accept this as a golden opportunity to follow my true path in life?
Ryan's company is trying to peddle the last of these. Clooney's character relays to each of these individuals that the more successful, world-changing people sat in a similar seat to the fired people themselves. Look to the future and you will truly live a better life. What a load of crap! Not every firing has a silver lining or has a light at the end of the tunnel. But, at least, Bingham tries to provide a little dignity to the job. Plus, Bingham seems to enjoy the lifestyle that his job demands.
Bingham's lifestyle and general perspective on life are also major characters in this movie. They stand equal ground with the character of the "collective" dismissed person. We see so many people fired in this movie that we almost lose the perspective that each person's life is as important as the one that precedes or the one that follows. When Bingham is brought back to the corporate office to be told that all outside agents will be corralled in the main branch to use teleconferencing calls to continue their work, he strikes a deal to take Natalie (Anna Kendrick), the architect of the teleconferencing idea, out on the road to see why human interaction is crucial in their line of work.
What comes of it is a contradiction in oneself. How can Bingham believe that human contact is critical in his job for people at their vulnerable, while he'd rather stay on the road and in the air avoiding making his own relations work? Is he so singularly driven that all other demands of his time and heart are too heavy weight in his "backpack" of life? Does Natalie show him a different path? Does a niece's wedding show him perspective? Does the reality of a hotel romance change who he is?
I cannot tell you if any of these questions are answered. But I can say that this movie is bleak and somewhat depressing, probably moreso for any casualties of our current economy. It does deserve the critical praise it has received, but I would pass this film for lighter fare.
Worth: Matinee or Netflix