I can definitely see where director and co-writer Richard Linklater is coming from with Fast Food Nation. You can empathize with its characters and what they’re struggling for/against and you can absolutely agree with what he’s trying to say is wrong but after the film was over I couldn’t help but be rather miffed and uncertain why everything was presented so haphazardly.
Fast Food Nation tackles and examines the health risks involved in the fast food industry, taking a look at how the food is prepared, what happens to the animals before they become the food, and the general environmental and social consequences of the industry itself.
To me this was one hell of a wasted opportunity. Although the basics are there in the film’s ideas, beliefs, and intended struggles against the corporate industries, it seemed as if Linklater just didn’t care when he put the film together. There is simply too much going on, too many characters and too many ideas fighting for their place within the film. The result is a haphazard mess for the most part, with bursts of Linklater’s usual witty and insightful dialogue to save the film from disaster.
The film starts off concentrating on Greg Kinnear’s company man who gets sent by his peers to check out the conditions and quality of the food his place of work provides. And if the film had stayed on that track I could’ve went right along with it. However it starts to introduce other characters such as some Mexicans crossing over into the U.S. to find work, some bored fast-food employees, and some teens who want to “fight the system”, to name but a few. The only thing seemingly linking all of these characters is the fast-food industry, which I guess you could argue is the point. Fair enough, I personally just don’t see it. The characters seem linked but they aren’t really, not in any solid way; the film comes complete (or incomplete) with no real, plausible reason why we would be watching all of these different people in the space of one movie. I got the fact that the giant fast-food companies are so large that they affect almost everyone - within the first twenty minutes, after that I just got sick of being battered over the head with it.