‘WeCrashed’ review: Jared Leto and Anne Hathaway can’t make Apple TV+’s WeWork series profitable

Add Leto’s Adam Neumann to the list of fast-talking hustlers who’ve built vast empires, only to see them come, well, crumble. In this case, the house of cards is WeWork, which grew from a unique coworking space to a global operation worth billions before its inevitable downfall.

Neumann calls himself a “serial entrepreneur,” a fancy way of saying he’s determined to get rich and keep throwing ideas around until gold is struck. The problem, as the eight-episode Apple TV+ series comprehensively illustrates, is that his commitment to sell, sell, sell masks a hollow shell, covered by the wild parties he throws and the bigoted devotion he throws. seeks to generate.

Beginning in 2019, “WeCrashed” travels back a dozen years to trace Neumann’s rise, as well as her courtship and marriage to Rebekah (Hathaway), who is her match in terms of the evangelical zeal she brings to the world. ‘business. Indeed, as depicted, she invents the idea that WeWork is “not a company. It’s a feeling”, speaking with laughable seriousness about “the soul of the company”.

Still, there’s a tired, repetitive quality to the way the episodes unfold, with Neumann spouting mantras like “Built to Grow” and buying market share as the company bleeds cash. The trick is to stay one step ahead of his board, to find new, deep-pocketed investors he can woo, no matter what the balance sheet says.

Leto disappears into the role, going from the Israeli accent of Neumann to walking around barefoot, able to go from charming people to warning a contestant “I’m going to crush you” with a smile on his face.

Hathaway also lowers her voice while increasing the intensity as Rebekah, who, faced with a dispute over her children’s school, simply decides to make her own. When a friend asks, “Is Adam real?”, his assurance that he is, based on the available evidence, feels like equal parts complicity and delusion.

Yet these performances almost play like a parody of the wealth of start-ups gone mad, in the service of an average streak. That’s certainly true of Hulu’s “The Dropout,” about Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos; and “Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber,” other cautionary tales of corporate greed gone wrong. (The story was also the subject of a 2021 documentary, “WeWork: or the Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn.”)

Adapted from the Wondery podcast, “WeCrashed” ultimately shares something in common with its subject matter in one key respect: Despite a front-and-center Oscar-winning pair of Leto and Hathaway, it looks better on paper. only once you start wading. the fine print.

“WeCrashed” premieres March 18 on Apple TV+. (Disclosure: My wife works for a unit of Apple.)