Circle (2015) Movie Review


Following an alien invasion, a diverse group of 50 people are sucked up into a black void space that is meant to be a spaceship. Each person is forced to stand on a red circle, or they’ll be struck by a killer lightning bolt. Touch one of the other people. Killer lightning. Do nothing for too long. Killer lightning. Turns out, each person gets a vote as to who gets killed every few minutes. It’s like some perverted democracy.


And that’s where the ethical questioning begins.


As the ensemble tries to logically break down the situation at hand, they bicker about superficial moral quandaries. Like the political debate stage, they fight over illegal immigration, racism, religion, pornography, and, perhaps most importantly, whether to kill a child or a pregnant woman. Ultimately, it plays out as stereotypical characters standing on their soapboxes for no entertainment value.


Given the size of the cast in such a confined space, each character gets roughly two minutes to tell their story. Thus, no one character matters to the audience whatsoever. In fact, most characters don’t even have names. In this way, attachment to these characters at the human level is rendered impossible. Perhaps this is the point, that the cruelty of man shines through in everyone, but, on a cinematic level, this apathy only creates problems for the narrative.


With the possibility of pathos and ethos expunged from the proceedings, we are left with the novelty of the premise to save our experience. That is to say, the last 20 minutes of the film are the only hope for its success.


Sadly, the climax achieves nothing but what is expected. And, somehow, even less. The small tremble of suspense that has been building throughout the film is extinguished with a whimper of a final scene that does more to backtrack than to provide a thought-provoking conclusion.


Circle wants to be an allegory about the disturbed American political system. Factions form like political parties, and morality takes a backseat to absurdity. But, the morality that is up for debate in the script is mishandled by stereotyping and superficiality. No real critical engagement of moral topics occurs, it is simply blathering straw man arguments. Circle is infuriating in its over-simplification of real-life social issues.




The Post-Script

This movie may have only dwindling entertainment value. But it birthed this insane line of dialogue: “You think aliens want me to die, because I’m gay?” And that’s worth a chuckle.

As always, thanks for reading!

Circle is currently on Netflix and Amazon Video.

Have you seen Circle? If so, what did you think? Let me know in the comments!


—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)

10 thoughts on “Circle (2015) Movie Review”

  1. At the end when college guy joins the other people, I assumed those are the other survivors of similar games as there are several children and pregnant women. But if both the mother and the fetus get a vote, a pregnant woman couldn’t be the survivor. So I have no idea what the point of all those people was 🙂


    1. Although it is not rated by the MPAA, I would say it is an R-rated film. The violence is on the cartoonish side, but there are multiple deaths. And if I remember correctly there is profanity, as well. In a classroom setting, I do not think it is appropriate. Otherwise, I would say that I think most 14-15 year olds have the mental age to handle the film, although that is not a judgment call for me to make.


  2. Had a very difficult time keeping up & Understanding all at the same time…….I’m a “Psychological Thriller”. Fanatic…… & doesn’t take very long for me to figure out the little pieces to the puzzle, However this one (even after reading the synopsis……) Still Do Not ” GET IT”……..


  3. This is one of the worst Psychological movie I’ve ever watched. There’s no moral. The way it ended was ruthless. I don’t advise anyone to watch this movie.


  4. So you guys thought that the movie should have been a bunch of babbling rhetoric about social problems? I guarantee if your life was on the line, you wouldn’t stand there and offer the perfect plan to fix the Earth’s countless problems. You and everyone else would be dealing with the fact that in 2 minutes…you might be dead. This movie isn’t a Global Leadership Conference with hours to spew thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. It’s a 120 min movie. I loved it, and thought it was awesome. It entertained. That’s what movies are supposed to do. Not get us all pumped to solve problems so complex that there is no answer to. I’m sure this very opinion will be considered offensive. Case and point. Another social problem. People being offended that something should just be fun, and that’s it. If you can’t enjoy this movie, I really feel sorry for you.


    1. I don’t consider your opinion offensive, and I think it’s totally valid that you enjoyed the film. I’m not saying the film should have been “babbling rhetoric over social problems.” I agree that it could have been highly entertaining if it had stripped away its moral quandaries. Instead, it tried to babble over social problems, and that didn’t work. I wasn’t entertained by the film because it tried to have a social conscience. This social conscience was superficial at best, and it was wholly unnecessary. I would have rather the film been exactly what you described, people acting realistically over the fact that they may die in two minutes. I just don’t think that’s what the film presented.

      Thank you for your comment.


  5. I myself quite enjoyed the movie. (My thoughts are filled with spoilers btw) It had such a fast pace but kept tension that left me a little weak hours after the movie ended. And I’d have to disagree about getting attached to characters. It was certainly minor attachments that I had, but attachment nonetheless. The characters I became somewhat attached to were obvious ones of course, the ‘good guys’ (army guy, cancer survivor, one armed man). And I did enjoy how the movie managed to get through such important and relevant issues such as class war, selfless vs selfish, race, religion, and homophobia. I thought the twist at the end was great, and was the only moment in the movie where I actually felt the need to take a step back and look at myself and the human race as a whole. Are we all capable of doing what he did? All that said, the movie was really flawed.

    Like you said, though they go over religion, race, etc. they don’t really delve into it or offer any new or substantial perspectives. The religion one was so brief and poorly done that it was just irritating to me (why are atheists always the bad guys?). And the voting was confusing as well. When they don’t vote, a random person is killed, but then you’re left wondering if they were killed by random or if someone voted for them. Then when there was a four way tie, and they all ended up dying, I was furious. How could that have happened? It was fast paced, but it was almost too fast paced, and failed to make voting clear and precise. Also the very ending, with the ships and all that, really sucked. They should’ve ended it at him being in a tie with the fetus, and then the screen just going black. Showing us the ships provides nothing except for confusion, and was a huge detriment to the movie.

    Final review: 6.5/10. Fun to watch, potentially thought provoking. Weak ending, execution could’ve been better. Thanks for putting up a review! I’ve been looking for one! Feels like no one has seen this movie.


    1. Thank you for your in-depth comments.

      In my opinion, they took a decent premise and made a slapdash attempt at a moral tale. The film could have used more intense commentary on the ethical dilemmas and the ramifications of the morality of their actions.

      And yes, the ending was absurd. I completely agree about where they should have cut to black.

      Thanks for reading!


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