This is an interesting drama starring the stalwart George Clooney (Ocean’s eleven) as Ryan Bingham, whose job is to fire individuals from organizations who have designated Ryan and his company to do this on their behalf. As Ryan gets to travel all over the world he has accumulated a lot of miles to the point that he gets special reservations, and an assortment of cards entitling him to various incentives due to his air miles accumulation.
Ryan tries to be as sympathetic but yet firm as he tells employees that they have been let go, but his boss Craig Gregory played by Jason Bateman (The Break-up) has brought in the beautiful Anna Kendrick (Twilight) a recent Cornell graduate with an interesting software that could mean that staff no longer have to be given the personal touch when they let people know that they have been fired. Ryan is not happy that his personal touch is being replaced by software, but his boss Craig convinces him to take Natalie with him on his visits, to show her the ropes so to speak.
Ryan is also aiming to accumulate enough air miles to get a much deserved after gold card, that would mean he had accumulated ten million miles, and will have his name on an airplane wing for his loyalty. While at a bar he comes across Alex Goran played by the lovely Vera Farmiga (Running Scared), who is evenly fascinated with loyalty cards. They spend the night, and agree to keep in touch when next they need each other.
Ryan has been away in chasing his dream, that he has neglected his family, where his youngest sister Julie played the lovely Melanie Lynskey (Coyote Ugly) is getting married, her elder sister Kara played by Amy Morton requests Ryan to take pictures at famous destinations he visits, with a cardboard cut-out of Julie and her groom to be Jim Miller, played by Danny McBride (Tropic Thunder, absolutely hilarious in Pineapple Express), it turns out due to the economic crisis, the couple have suspended any plans for a honeymoon and instead have asked various friends and family who are traveling to take pictures of idyllic destinations with their cardboard cut-out.
During their rounds Ryan’s boss Craig, encourages Ryan to let Natalie fire a few people to see how she gets on, and Craig is so impressed by her performance he gives the go ahead for the software to go live, much to Ryan’s disapproval.
Ryan sees Natalie as someone who has a lot of growing up to do, while she on the other hand wonders why he is not married, has no children and has no intention of settling down, Ryan calmly explains that this is the life he has chosen and he is OK with it. His philosophy so far will soon come into conflict with his personal desires, as he believes all relationships, belongings, including homes, cars, accessories are all baggage that should be put in a rucksack and discarded, as they weigh an individual down, in fact he gives motivational statements based on this theory, but during their trip, and visiting his sister who is about to be married he begins some reflections on how his life has panned out, and begins to open up to the possibility that he is lonely, and would like to find someone to spend that loneliness with.
It is an interesting romantic drama, and at the end you realize the early documentary style footage were from genuine reactions from people who had been fired.