Bobby Walker (Ben Affleck) gets fired from a job that promised him his mentor’s position. His mentor is Gene McClary (Tommy Lee Jones) and he appears to be waken angel in the devil’s chambers. His best friend and boss Jim Salinger (Craig T. Nelson) has succumbed as the staple CEOs to the greediness of the market to make a merger successful. He hires the female version of George Clooney’s character from “Up in the Air” and she is ruthless as she has marketed herself to be. Sally Wilcox (Mario Bello) is the axe Jim uses and you can always find someone to do it as you do for any job. Another level above the ladder of Bobby is Phil Woodward (Chris Cooper). Old, rusty and afraid, Phil knows he will soon be next. This is the sample of several individuals who went through the tough times and some still are.
There are risks to be taken in life and life to be given to things and those things not necessarily will pay you back. Sons, daughters, brothers, sisters are all out there and shine out and rust down based on the times. Bobby is back home devastated and begins grilling. What do you do the day you get fired? I do not know. I am not sure how I would react either. The level of uncertainty that exists in my stay out here bothered for a while. Now I am just tired of being that way and have gone back to the old ways. Taking one day at a time. But I still have a job and income to continue this luxurious life. Bobby does not have that luxury anymore.
The simpleness of the “The Company Men” is its key to get in this mind of the country that appeared to have survived and is surviving on a false foundation. Bobby was earning six figure salary, been driving an expensive car, living in a house that can shelter dozens of people and last but not least support a family. His wife Maggie (Rosemarie DeWitt) understands what it means. She begins to cut corners and ask Bobby to be realistic on the situation they are in. Bobby has lived this life for a thorough number of years where not getting the right shots in the golf has been the only tough times. Here he is shoved with the real one. He struggles. There is Jack (Kevin Costner) brother of Maggie who is the good old American despising companies like Bobby’s and always has a knack to make a dinner table conversation into a political statement. He is though good at heart and helps his brother in law.
Then is Phil, looked as a dinosaur weighing the company and several others. While Bobby has an able support and sense from Maggie, Phil appears to not have those. He goes south and then further. He sees the world has moved on with the next generation and forgotten to acknowledge his slump. Even a desperate attempt from his buddy Gene cannot pull him out of this downward spiral. His outlook is another perspective some of the people took and I do not want to be in that zone. But what can a 60 year old executive who began his career from work shop do when the baby he helped built kicked him out of the door and left him there to starve? It is hard to pick oneself up when the age has slowed you down and comfort has pampered into the minds. He bites the floor pretty hard.
Gene built this company with this friend and colleague. Somewhere his friend got sucked and bought himself into the magic of leading king’s life as CEO while Gene went along for the ride but has residues of conscience left from the time they were simple men. He has an affair with Sally which is a side note than a side story. Still there is something that says about both of them. Gene has the guilt but not the ultimate push to do the right thing. He is too old and too tired and too rich to do something like that.
Written and directed by John Wells, “The Company Men” is a sad story said with a composed perspective. Stability is what we all want. Hell I go out of sorts when something outside of the routine begins to happen and these are people who have given their heart, soul and life to this organism. I am though in the generation wherein company is clearly a non-human entity and understood in that manner. Another wonderful strength of the film are the actors. Some of the best supporting casts do a subtle role with simplicity of a terrible situation. Nothing gets punctuated or overblown in the film thereby carrying a tone that provides a tragic lesson with soft gloves.