The motto at Google is “Don’t be evil.” It’s so succinct yet somehow full of nuance. What is evil? Where in the process of ubiquitous data collection, the true lifeblood of the tech world, are morals tabled in favor of profits? Emma Watson and Tom Hanks’ new film The Circle attempts to consider the price of actual transparency through technology, with disappointing results.

Mae Holland (Watson) is hired on in the Customer Experience department at the titular tech giant and immediately finds herself on an idyllic campus with sleek welcoming offices, Beck concerts and countless activities. Clearly parallels, both positive and negative, are meant to be drawn between the fictional Northern California company and real enterprises like Google and Facebook. At Mae’s first all-company rollout, Eamon Bailey (Hanks) introduces SeeChange. It’s a new inexpensive camera that can be placed just about anywhere and gathers data in the area. The new enterprise is touted as a bold step toward real accountability at The Circle while government officials question individuals’ rights. Star Wars: The Force Awakens star John Boyega’s character Ty is the only voice of reason in Mae’s world. He’s not convinced of The Circle’s high-minded intentions and he challenges Mae to not merely trust appearances. Although reticent at first, Mae eventually becomes a true believer. She even agrees to be the subject of a new, daunting project.

The premise of the film is straightforward and, like the employees at the all-too-familiar-looking company, the intentions are arguably admirable. But in scene after scene, the duality of The Circle’s utopian feel and its employees’ eerie devotion to sharing is reduced to parody. Some moments are so over the top, they’d be better suited for an SNL sketch or an episode of Silicon Valley.

Soon Mae is a rock star. She’s fawned after by her coworkers and followed feverishly around the world on social media. However, her new acclaim begins to have devastating effects in her personal life, culminating in tragedy. Her meteoric rise and the problems it has created inspires Mae to be an agent of change at The Circle. Affable as ever, Watson is game for every beat in this tech drama. Hanks, Patton Oswalt, Karen Gillan, Glenne Headly and the late great Bill Paxton all do their part to broach the film’s lofty questions. Yet The Circle fails to deliver the poignancy and gravity of its convictions.

Fans of Watson and Hanks will have something to take with them but average moviegoers will come up empty handed. Director James Ponsoldt and Dave Eggers (who wrote the book on which the film is based) turned in a script concerned more with appealing to Watson’s fans than truly exploring a modern world where everything is documented. And the underutilization of Boyega’s talents in The Circle is downright shameful. Turning a story about losing privacy in the pursuit of humanity’s betterment into a glib, ham-handed drama isn’t evil but it’s certainly not good.

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