Tom Hanks has built a legendary career playing everymen who become heroes. Cast Away is possibly the perfect Hanks movie: at the beginning he’s just a regular guy, then something spectacularly awful happens to him and he must use all his wits and courage to get through the crisis. Unlike typical action heroes, Hanks always uses his brains instead of his brawn to get through whatever challenges are presented to him, and audiences over the years have come to love his thoughtful, grounded, believable portrayals of regular-guy heroism.
Hanks has built-up his non-super-heroic “America’s dad” persona over the course of many decades, and seldom has he strayed from the formula (and it’s usually been a disaster when he has). But in the upcoming movie The Circle, Hanks appears ready to break away from the good guy mold and explore somewhat darker territory.
The second trailer for The Circle, via STX Entertainment, takes us deeper into the movie’s vision of a technological utopia that is not what it seems to be. Emma Watson plays a young computer wiz who lands a job at a huge tech company, and is quickly embraced by its leader, played by the seemingly warm-and-fuzzy Hanks. However, Watson soon comes to worry that she has become involved in something sinister and evil and that Hanks’ character might not be the nice, caring, fatherly guy he pretends to be.
Based on a 2013 novel by Dave Eggers, The Circle is a cautionary sci-fi tale about the dangers of letting tech companies have too much control over our lives. Hanks in the trailer utters the movie’s tagline “Knowing is good. Knowing everything is better.” That pretty much sums up the story’s themes about the dangers of the surveillance state and the totalitarianism that could arise from it. It becomes even scarier when you realize that folks are voluntarily letting this tech into their lives in the name of “safety.”
The trailer promises a very slickly polished experience, with Emma Watson in plucky-heroine mode and John Boyega adding his star power in the role of Watson’s accomplice in unraveling the dark mysteries of The Circle. If you’re paying attention you’ll also catch a couple glimpses of Patton Oswalt apparently playing Evil Tom Hanks’ lackey.
Casting Hanks as the bad guy seems brilliant, because Hanks is exactly the kind of warm, paternal figure who would make the sneakiest and best authoritarian supervillain. Anybody can play the mustache-twirling kind of evil, but there’s something extra-scary about a guy who comes on like your pal and then turns out to be a megalomaniac bent on controlling the world via tiny cameras and drones. Hanks seems willing to subvert his “America’s dad” image in The Circle, and we’ll see if audiences can handle it when the movie comes out in theaters.
Source: STX Entertainment