A competently crafted, steadily paced & extensively researched biographical drama that’s further uplifted by Michael Keaton’s fantastic performance, The Founder covers the rags to riches tale of an ambitious salesman who sensed & tapped the potential of a small fast-food diner in California and turned it into one of the largest & most successful restaurant chains in the world with a bit of hustle, persistence & ruthlessness.
Set in the 1950s, the film tells the story of Ray Kroc, a travelling salesman who comes across a small diner operated by two McDonald brothers in San Bernardino, California, and is left dazzled by their lightning-fast service, high-quality food & strong work ethic. Wanting to be a part of their business, he joins them as their franchising agent to expand the fast-food chain all over America, and ultimately swindles them from their own business.
Directed by John Lee Hancock, The Founder is as much about the cut-throat world of business as it is about the rise of McDonald’s, and is told in an intuitive manner that keeps the interest alive at all times. Hancock handles the subject matter with restraint, maintaining a firm grip over all aspects, and never deviates from the main premise. Also, the momentum is never lost while it moves from the discovery, creation, operation & expansion of McDonald’s to the ultimate swindling.
The old style McDonald’s restaurants depicted in the film are in tune with the timeline this story is set in and the vast countryside shooting locations help in further evoking its 1950s era. The sharp focus & still handling of camera, in addition to its warm colour palette, helps in providing a homely texture to its images. Editing keeps the pace steady and provides a tight & gripping structure to its plot while Carter Burwell’s score is ever present in the background and wonderfully performs its duties.
Coming to the performances, The Founder features a talented cast in Michael Keaton, John Carroll Lynch, Nick Offerman, Linda Cardellini, Patrick Wilson, B.J. Novak & Laura Dern. Leading from the front is Keaton who delivers another strong performance in what’s the second coming of his acting career as he brings Kroc to life with flair, passion & panache. Lynch & Offerman are in as McDonald brothers and play their part convincingly, plus the moments between them & Kroc is as amusing as it is riveting.
On an overall scale, The Founder is a carefully investigated & smartly scripted biopic that’s just as informative as it is entertaining and confidently illustrates the rise of the man who dared to dream bigger and single-handedly turned a small fast-food restaurant into a billion-dollar conglomerate with his aggressive business practices. It’s also commendable for keeping Kroc’s personal life out of the main narrative, something most Hollywood biopics are guilty of. A mostly satisfying journey that made me go “I’m Lovin’ It” more than once over the course of its runtime, The Founder is definitely worth a shot.