Remember Peggy Lee singing “Is That All There Is?” That aptly describes the adulthood of Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) who waltzes through life with an aircraft glued to the seat of his pants. Ryan is a product of modern America, where his company concentrates on dispatching its staff dedicated to firing the innocent victims of an economy in severe recession.
Clooney is at his best, beautifully underplaying the role of Bingham, a man who spends over 300 days a year criss-crossing the country for the sole purpose of firing people. He is smooth, convincing, but dispassionate when he substitutes “opportunity” for the more common Trumpism, “You’re Fired!” His tools are words and his ever-present packets of information about life after firing. Without roots, he returns occasionally to headquarters and his single room in Omaha to repack his neatly arranged carry-on.
Bingham finally meets reality in the forms of two women: an attractive free spirit he picks up in a bar, and an almost know-it-all Ivy Leaguer who has developed a way to fire folks electronically. He romances the former and teaches the latter.
Alex Goran, the sexy one, and Natalie, the young ‘un, both challenge Bingham to face real life. He begins to realize that collecting airline miles is not all there is, and that freedom from roots is meaningless.
Clooney, Alex (Vera Farmiga), Natalie (Anna Kendrick) and Jason Bateman as Bingham’s boss, are all superb. There are a lot of excellent one-liners, while under the clouds there’s an emptiness well reflecting our times.