Emma Watson plays Mae Holland, a savvy, young customer-service oriented employee who is seeking a better paying and more rewarding job. With the help of her friend Annie, she lands a gig at The Circle, the world’s most powerful technology and social media company.
To understand what working at The Circle is like: combine the work environments of Google and Microsoft with Facebook and Twitter, add steroids and you have The Circle. People who work at The Circle never leave The Circle. They live there.
When we’re first introduced to The Circle founder Eamon Bailey (Tom Hanks), he’s discussing in one of the weekly company-wide meetings how they have placed tiny hidden cameras all over the world to see everything that’s going on all the time. With everyone.
It soon becomes quite clear that one of the main goals of The Circle is to invade everyone’s privacy. Eventually Bailey and his sidekick/CEO Tom Stenton (Patton Oswalt) take Mae under their wing and in a move where the viewer cannot help to wonder if Mae has been brainwashed, she decides to go transparent, allowing people all over the world to monitor and comment on her every move. Think of it like a Periscope or Facebook Live feed that never stops. By this time in the movie Mae is fully enjoying her time at The Circle, including the healthcare coverage she receives for her parents. This comes in very handy especially for her father Vinnie (played by Bill Paxton in his final role), as he is inflicted with Multiple Sclerosis.
Although things on the surface seem great, Mae has lost touch with her good friend Mercer, has alienated her friend Annie and has embarrassed herself and her parents when she accidentally streams in on a private moment between them, letting the world have a sneak peek at her parent’s sex life.
Then, along with Bailey and Tom, Mae introduces The Circle world to “soul searching”, a feature which allows anyone to find anyone in twenty minutes or less. In the initial test they search for a wanted killer who has been on the lam for years. Within ten minutes they find her and she is apprehended. Suddenly it looks like this could be a helpful tool. Then Mae suggests they try finding a regular citizen, a non-criminal. The crowd suggests she try to find Mercer. Though hesitant, Mae agrees. The next thing we see two individuals merging on Mercer’s property, knocking on his door, their cellphones in hand, recording the entire event for the world to see. We watch as Mercer runs from his residence, hops in his truck and drives away, only to be pursued by several cars and a drone. The drone crashes into Mercer’s truck, causing him to crash off a bridge and die.
The death of her friend Mercer is a turning point for Mae. She knows what she needs to do and upon her return to work at The Circle, she does it, causing Bailey to mutter to Tom “we are so fucked”.
Though entertaining enough “The Circle” does lack in providing background on many of the characters. Watson is a fine actress, who has certainly come into her own but I feel what “The Circle” really needed was more Hanks.