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Review: Michael Keaton delivers as pioneer of the fast food empire in The Founder

10:25 16 February 2017

Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc in The Founder. Picture: StudioCanal/McFadden

Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc in The Founder. Picture: StudioCanal/McFadden

Archant

His mesmerizing central performance enlivens John Lee Hancock’s tasty biopic of the businessman whose ambition was a key ingredient in the birth of a McDonald’s.

The Founder (12A)

****

This is not the story of the men that founded McDonald’s fast food; it’s the story of the man who made it a chain. When travelling salesman Ray Kroc (an excellent Michael Keaton) turns up at the McDonald restaurant in San Bernadino in 1954 and introduces himself to the two McDonald brothers, Dick (Nick Offerman) and Mac (John Carroll Lynch), the creators of Speedee Service, you know it will end badly.

That’s obvious, if they got on swimmingly there’d be no movie. Plus, being a product of Hollywood (that undrained swamp of elitist liberalism) we know that we are going to get a lecture on the evils of capitalism.

What you don’t expect is how sly this sledgehammer will be. Its knives are out for Kroc, but it waits for him to fall upon them rather than hastily shoving them into his back.

At the start of the film we are swept up in their enthusiasm. These are three resourceful, resilient men with vision and ambition and you are willing them on. We know that these men are forging a demon engine that will stunt the soul of our civilisation but the brothers’ inventiveness and Kroc’s restless drive seem admirable and when it all goes sour, we feel betrayed.

John Lee Hancock’s film has a top notch script and cast is surprisingly cinematic: it really makes good use of the iconography of the original McDonald’s outlets, those golden arches look like drive thru Monument Valleys.

It’s the perfect Oscar movie except for two things: it has been completely shunned in the nominations and actually has an original perspective on its subject.

It makes you realises that all the Evil Corps that surround us were all founded by the giddy thrill of entrepreneurship.

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