A tale of corporate downsizing, “The Axman” follows the fictional tale of a management trainee at a major corporation who finds out he’s been hired as the company’s axman.
To begin with, the characters and the company itself are not given names, possibly as a statement regarding the impersonal nature of corporations. Our lead (Dominic DeLeo) is fresh out of business school coming to “the company”, no not the CIA, to work as a management trainee. After settling into his new office, he discovers that his assignment is to call employees in to notify them that they’ve been laid off.
What follows is a series of difficult and slightly amusing scenes portraying these encounters. Of note, one downsizing victim pulls out a hand grenade, later revealed as a dummy and another employee leaves to commit suicide. All are just numbers on a sheet of paper called in to receive notice of their termination an their severance pay. “The Company’s” policy is to meet with these folks in person to add a more human and personal touch to the process. Though the president (David Lowe) is constantly pressuring the trainee to speed up the process and not to let them “walk all over” him. The trainee must cope with the cruel nature of his assignment while wrestling with doubts regarding his place in the corporate culture. After completing the lay offs, he’s given the opportunity to move up in the ranks. Can he turn his conscious off and continue as a ruthless, impersonal servant to “the company”? What follows is not very surprising.
The Axman succeeds in painting a grim picture of corporate America with its drab office sets and disenfranchised peripheral characters, but the acting falls short. Arguably, stiff, emotionless performances
may work as another device to set a tone or prove a point, but in this case, it comes off as amateur and uninspired.