Our hero, such as he is, is Alan, a former member of management at Schwinn Bicycles. Like many other great American brands, it is now just a subsidiary of some MultiNational Evil Corp. In A Hologram for The King, Alan was the axman who killed Schwinn and now has a new job as a salesman for an IT company that wants to land a lucrative Saudi account.
So right off, Alan, is not a very nice man. The fact that he weeps and gnashes his teeth and deeply regrets what he has done matters little. He’s a loser who has a lot of problems and his only solution involves getting drunk in a country where it’s against the law to drink alcohol.
Now I realize that Tom Hanks could probably hook up with anyone he wants to. He’s Tom Hanks for crying out loud. But Alan is a total loser and yet two women want to have sex with him as soon as they met him. Alan falls for the more exotic of the two, a Saudi doctor played by Sarita Choudhury. There is no clue as to why she falls in love with him at first sight.
Alan also befriends a taxi driver, who leads him into a couple of dangerous situations, but is mostly harmless. There is talk about the Saudi’s executing people for breaking some law or another, possibly laws that Alan has broken or will break soon, but he bumbles blindly along with no worry.
The business part of the story sees Alan and three assistants working in a tent as they prepare their presentation for the King, who always seems to be too busy today, but will definitely stop by tomorrow. Alan stays long enough to be on a nodding acquaintance with everyone at the empty city where he awaits the King’s pleasure.
The future city where Alan spends his days is the natural result of having endless supplies of money and nothing worthwhile to do with it. China also has these odd pre-ghost towns that will likely never have residents and likely never be completed. So it makes perfect sense when Alan the hustler ends up selling apartments in a building that may never be made.
A Hologram for the King was a good looking film and the acting was great. It was fun in spots and it was fun to see Tom wander around playing a stranger in a strange land. It was worth watching, but it wasn’t exactly a riveting story. The overall message was one of, wow, lucky bastard. Lucky because he does nothing to earn his happy ending.