Director: Mark Williams
Cast: Gerard Butler, Gretchen Mol, Alison Brie, Willem Dafoe, Alfred Molina, Anupam Kher
Runtime: 1 hr 50 mins
Rating: PG13 (Sexual References and Some Coarse Language)
Released By: Shaw
Opening Day: 10 August 2017
Synopsis: Dane Jensen (Gerard Butler) is a hard-driven Chicago-based headhunter, working at a cut-throat job placement firm. When Dane’s boss (Willem Dafoe) announces his retirement, he pits Dane against Lynn Vogel (Alison Brie), Dane’s equally driven, but polar opposite rival at the firm, in a battle for control of the company. As Dane gears up for the professional battle of his life, he learns his 10-year-old son, Ryan (Max Jenkins), is diagnosed with cancer. Suddenly, Dane is pulled between achieving his professional dream and spending time with his wife (Gretchen Mol) and Ryan, who need him now more than ever.
We are actually stuck in a dilemma on this, we don’t know if this movie should be call A Family Man (not to be confused with Brett Ratner’s The Family Man) or stick to it’s original title, The Headhunter’s Calling because both titles won’t be as good as say, The Redemption of an Absentee Father or something along this line.
Instead of leading a band of nearly naked warriors to war or protecting the President, Gerard Butler stars as a cutthroat, ruthless headhunter, Dane Jensen who spent more time climbing the corporate ladder than spending quality time with his wife and three young kids. You know Jensen is tough and no-nonsense when he drinks coffee mix with Red Bull in the morning. And he also demands oral sex from his wife in an absolutely awkward exchange for a PG13 movie. And you know he is aiming to take over his boss’ seat when the latter (Willem Dafoe) offers him a chance except there’s a fellow competitor, Lynn Wilson (Alison Brie) in the race as well.
At the same time, his eldest son whom Jensen assumed has weight issues is in actual fact, suffering from leukemia. At this point, you probably know Jensen is going to neglect his sales target and focused his attention on his sickly son. Developing a 360-degree turn in his behavior, Jensen realized his goal of “bringing home the bacon” is no longer his priority in his life instead it’s his family who ought to be on top of his list. We swear this is not a faith-based movie but it should.
Running close to two hours, A Family Man spent the bulk of the runtime on boring corporate, boardroom talk that apparently went nowhere by the time Jensen’s son got admitted to the hospital. The movie attempts to stay afloat by devoting the rest of the narrative to Jensen spending time with his sick son and his sudden change of conscious including helping a middle age man (played by Alfred Molina) in landing a job, an act not likely performed by the old Jensen. To showcase the pressure and stress faced by the couple, Mrs Jensen (Gretchen Mol) had an embarassing meltdown at her son’s school while later on, Mr and Mrs Jensen had a huge quarrel at a family gathering.
Despite the good intention to impart messages about the importance of family, the entire affair never rises beyond a generic, melodramatic TV movie. Gerard Butler who also produced this Made-In-Canada production unfortunately wasted his chance to showcase his dramatic range. Willem Dafoe on the other hand who played his ruthless boss has a few chilling scenes that require him to scream his lungs out.
Honestly, A Family Man is not sappy enough to unleash your tear ducts or a decent representation of the headhunting business. The tone is generally inconsistent and that perhaps is due to first time director Mark Williams (producer of The Accountant). For a tale that is mainly about grief and redemption, A Family Man sadly never really hit the mark.
(You don’t really need Kleenex boxes for this one)
Review by Linus Tee