Fast Food Nation is an adaptation to Eric Schlosser’s best-selling nonfiction that unfolds the stories behind the fast-food industry in making America’s favorite meal, the hamburger. Richard Linklater opted to share it with the audience on a big screen.
The film starts with Mickey’s hamburger fast food executive Don Anderson, who wants to investigate the reports of E. coli bacteria in the company’s beef supply. He helps in developing the “Big One” hamburger and because of this, he finds himself responsible for the incident. He does an independent investigation.
He visits the main meat supplier, the Uni-Globe meat packing processing plant, and finds out the company produces clean meat. Not convinced of what he sees, he meets Rudy Martin, the cattle supplier to the plant, and discovers the truth of the contamination of the meat. He meets the company VP executive Harry Rydell, who confesses that he is aware of the issue but simply ignores it.
His investigation leads him to discover Mickey’s employee Amber, the exploitation of the illegal Mexican immigrants doing the dirty jobs in the plant, and a group of activists who sneaks the plant trying to save the cattle and plans to expose the situations at Mickey’s. The illegal immigrants from Mexico like Raul, Sylvia, and Coco suffer heartless working conditions in the plant. Sylvia has sex with the Uni-Globe supervisor Mike to land a job at the plant. Finally, she gets to work on the kill floor of the meat processing plant.
The film ends in the meatpacking industry showing the kill floor. How the cows are killed and dissected is the hardest part to watch in the film. Confronted with this kind of reality brings a change in a person’s life and will somehow raise sympathy towards farm animals. A peek in the slaughterhouse is informative and gives us a clear view of the reality inside the factory farm.
Another sad part of the film is the ruthless working condition of the illegal immigrants. This is a revelation that may seem so little yet hard to imagine that individuals are suffering from dehumanization when they are ought to be given respect.
The film is not only about drama. The part where young individuals break down the fence to free the cattle but find out that the cattle make no effort to leave is funny and shows the lighter side of the flick.
The movie showcase different individuals working in various industries and gives the viewer relevant facts of what is happening before the all-time favorite meal reaches the fast-food counters. The wide coverage of the movie acknowledges the diverse group of the society, both the white-collar and blue-collar workers and the young individuals who work and study, but still, have disappointments in achieving their dreams.
The movie is sending a message to the consumer hovering at fast-food chains. Problems are underlying it such as exploitation of underage employees and health issues like obesity. Another important piece that it tries to convey is about the health risk in the fast-food industry that serves as an eye-opener for the viewers, but leaving everyone a choice either to rush to fast food as millions of people still take a bite of their favorite fast food or to step back and munch for healthier foods.
The movie tackles a lot of issues aside from the influence of fast food in the global community, but one thing is clear in this movie is that this is not only about the horrible conditions of animals, but also of human beings.