Tom Hanks is fish-out-of-water when he experience culture shock in Saudi Arabia. It is marginally funny when he experience no-alcohol laws, how to get around no-female touching and a strange trip through Mecca, but the movie is never tough or unique with it's subject matter to really talk about the difficult religious issues nor what sets the cultures apart and it ends up being another cute romantic love story again.
One of those films where you leave not feeling utter contempt, not feeling complete infatuated, but even saying you feel content doesn't really cut it. You just emerge from an experience that gave you a few smiles, a few laughs, but nothing that lasted. I think the problem is Tom Tykwer doesn't really know what he wants to do here, and with that, the audience damn-sure won't figure that out for him.
The first twenty minutes are splendid: a bit of Kafka, a dash of Buzzati (The Tartar Steppe), globalization, inequality, etc. Then somebody reminded Tykwer that he was making a Hollywood hologram, pardon, movie, and utter cheesiness took over. A missed opportunity. As with any other mainstream Hollywood movie, it is about reassuring Americans about their role, relevance, and agency in the world.
A breezy, aimless and dramatically inept attempt at a character study that is nonetheless redeemed by the work of its leading man. In recent years, Hanks has finally justified the adoration showered upon him in the 90s, proving himself one of the most sensitive and casually consummate acting stars of Hollywood cinema. His scenes shared with Sarita Choudhury are a thing of rare delicate beauty.