A ruthless race of talent versus persistence
The film is an origin story of how an ambitious salesman called Ray Kroc turned McDonald’s, a small town hamburger restaurant owned by the McDonald brothers into one of the biggest fast food restaurant chains in the world. His cut-throat strategies and sharp business acumen enabled him to put the brand on the global map, eventually even taking it away from the brothers (Dick and Mac McDonald), who originally founded it. Is it right for him to call himself the ‘Founder’?
Persistence can overshadow talent if you refuse to think big, is what Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) firmly believes. He is a fading salesman, who sells milkshake machines and follows a motto that for any business, an increase in supply creates its own demand. The moment he lays eyes on Dick and Mac McDonald’s fast-food burger restaurant with one of a kind self-service system, he envisions it as an international franchise. His big American dream doesn’t entice the brothers, who are content with what they have. Kroc convinces them to let him set up a franchise operation for them and in no time arm-twists the owners to step back and watch him takeover.
Hancock not only tells us the story of how the McDonald’s empire came into being but also addresses a relevant life-crisis… Can the modest survive in the dog-eat-dog world and what should one focus on — quality or quantity? While the story doesn’t justify Kroc’s ruthless business antics and his complete disregard for ethics, it doesn’t overlook his vision, branding genius and contribution to the formation of the McDonald’s empire either.
The terrific Michael Keaton owns his role, making you feel awed and angered by his calculative character. The role requires him to walk a tightrope as Kroc is not an out-an-out megalomaniac. He just cannot put up with people, who won’t risk a thing.
The Founder is reminiscent of The Social Network (2010) in many ways. However, Hancock fails to infuse that tension into his storytelling like David Fincher did, making his film more informative than interesting. The film has a stillness of pace around it that’s also an issue.
This business drama falls short of being a powerful biopic but if you are a loyal customer of McDonald’s, a budding businessman or a Michael Keaton fan, you’ll like it.