By Joshua Cody
Up in the Air bills itself as “the story of a man ready to make a connection,” and the plot is straightforward and unsophisticated. If you’re not familiar, I’ll prime you:
Ryan Bingham (played by George Clooney) is a professional terminator. He lays off employees for bosses who don’t have the guts to do the deed themselves. After nearly a million miles of travel, technological advances leave him grounded. It’s much cheaper to fire people via a teleconference from a remote location, and Ryan must come to terms with a life lived apart from airports and hotels.
Entering the movie, I was less-than-hopeful that such a vapid and stale storyline would keep me entertained. But being a big fan of Jason Reitman and George Clooney, I gave the film a shot.
It certainly wasn’t the plot thrills that had me leaving the movie with a grin and a skip. Rather, it’s been the performances and the storytelling that have earned Paramount a cool $57 million at the time of this writing.
George Clooney is a brilliant mix of charming and haunted, and Reitman does a fantastic job of amplifying the thoughts and conflicts of Ryan Bingham with his direction.
Bingham struggles through his own relationship with his family, the value of his body of work, his lack of engagement with any sort of stable community, and the ways his work affects those around him. It’s a story of the essential midlife question: “Do I matter?”
And like any great film, Up in the Air doesn’t leave its viewer without questions and challenges. The audience is left on the other side wondering what he decided.
But more importantly, we leave the theater wrestling with what we will decide.
Joshua is a young, married twenty-something who believes the gospel should be communicated with clarity and passion, through actions before words. He writes at Church Marketing Sucks and on his Twitter page, and he currently resides in beautiful Athens, GA.