A Man in Full movie review & film summary (2024)

Based on Tom Wolfe’s 1998 novel of the same name but translated into the 21st century, “A Man in Full” focuses on the Southern-fried Croker (Daniels), who lives lavishly like every other wealthy business tycoon, real or fictional: He flies around in private jets, has a much younger wife (Sarah Jones), and, most importantly, bleeds money like the bank isn’t coming to get him. On the heels of his ostentatious 60th birthday party, where his closest aristocratic business friends gather to watch none other than Shania Twain (a wild cameo) perform some of her greatest hits, the bank comes a-knocking, wanting their loan money back—$800 million worth, in fact. 

Shortly after the festivities, Croker meets with Planners Bank; his opponent, Harry Zale (a fierce Bill Camp), squeezes him out, telling him he’s bankrupt and must start paying back what he owes. Within that boardroom is his old prodigy-turned-loan-officer Raymond Peepgrass (an engrossing Tom Pelphrey)—a real name nobody decided to update for some reason––who has it out for Croker. As his troubles compound, Croker scrambles to find investors for his monolithic business. 

Croker’s woes play out amidst a mayoral election season, in which his former business colleague runs against Wes Jordan (William Jackson Harper), a young Black mayor vying for his second term. Right when Croker needs his corporate attorney Roger White (Aml Ameen) at his side, he instead tasks him to help his secretary, Jill Hensley (Chanté Adams), with a racially-charged trial involving her peacekeeping husband Conrad (Jon Michael Hill), convicted of assaulting a violent police officer over a parking violation that lands him in at a hostile correctional facility. 

I went into “A Man in Full” thinking it would fill the “Succession”-level void I’ve been yearning for since its conclusion. Alas, it’s nowhere close to that. Thematically, it plays like a Georgia-set “House of Cards” meets “The Chi,” as Kelley’s roundabout dissection of the working- and upper-class disparity within Atlanta isn’t anything particularly novel or interesting. Kelley fills the proceedings with a few comical moments that were, per my research, adapted from Wolfe’s text—like Croker trying to show an investor horse breeding on his plantation. But these cheekier moments never cohesively tie into the distressing depiction of the American judicial system and the Black male experience that remains far too close to reality.