– Summary –
Director : Oliver Stone
Year Of Release : 2010
Principal Cast : Michael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf, Carey Mulligan, Josh Brolin, Eli Wallach, Frank Langella.
Approx Running Time : 130 Minutes
Synopsis: A young Wall Street trader, upset over the suicide death of his friend and mentor, sets about seeking revenge on the company he holds responsible: all set to the groovy tunes of the 2008 global financial crisis.
What we think : Tepid, drama-lite character study of greed no longer being simply good, but rather being a state of mind. The young cast perform well on the big stage, while Michael Douglas look a little lost returning to his most iconic role – Gordon Gekko looks out of place in the swisho-schmick world of modern corporate baking and stock options – although it must be said that, as is often with Wall Street, looks can be deceiving.
This sequel to Oliver Stone’s iconic 80’s film Wall Street, subtitled Money Never Sleeps, is a look into the backroom antics of the financial sector on the infamous New York City concourse in the lead up to – and during – the global financial meltdown of 2008 – mixed in with one of cinema’s most reviled financial villains, Gordon Gekko. Now reformed (apparently) after being released from prison, Gekko returns to New York to mend broken bridges with his daughter Winnie (Carey Mulligan), who is currently dating Wall Street broker and up-and-comer Jake (Shia LaBeouf). After Jakes company goes under, and his mentor commits suicide, the young financial ingenue engages the help of Gekko in seeking revenge against Bretton James (Josh Brolin), a competing Wall Streeter whom Jake sees as the one who caused all his problems. From there, subterfuge and intrigue are the order of the day. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is, I think, an attempt by Stone to indict the financial sector of America in much the same way he politicized the assassination of JFK in the film of the same name, or caused waves with his devastating look into the Vietnam War with Platoon and Born on the Fourth Of July – did he succeed? Well, not entirely.
Money Never Sleeps is a slow, talky film lacking any kind of bite or bile – Stone’s trademark political leanings and overt criticism of his Government seems muzzled, almost nullified by the dullard characters he’s forced to represent in this tepid film. LaBeouf and Mulligan perform admirably, against a backdrop of machinations so far above their ability to comprehend, but have limited chemistry and even less quality dialogue. Key cast member, Michael Douglas reprising his most famous role in Gordon Gekko, seems shoehorned into this film as an afterthought, almost like the film was half completed before somebody came up with the bright idea of having Gekko in it somehow and Stone deciding that was a great idea and just making scenes up as he went along. Douglas seems lost in this, almost as if he’s in a different film; some kind of mix of Pacino in Devil’s Advocate and Max Von Sydow in Robin Hood. Josh Brolin does extremely well as the films central antagonist, and of all the performances in the film, his stands high above the others. Frank Langella offers nothing save the most dismal 2-dimensional character, and his central relationship with Jake – a relationship on which the entire film hangs – lacks realism and spark. Money Never Sleeps simply lumbers along, trying in vain to accommodate all that the “Wall Street” franchise should espouse, and failing. The screenplay lacks urgency, with dialogue instead replaced with incomprehensible financial gobbledygook (at least, incomprehensible to anybody not working in the finance sector) and a disenchantment with any of the characters as moral tentpoles. Indeed, even Jake’s somewhat salubrious motivations twist and turn out of story necessity, instead of out of a requirement for his character to develop. Money Never Sleeps is, dare I say it, a sleepy film devoid of the anger, energy or bias many of Stone’s earlier works contained, and that fact causes this film to have little-to-no emotional impact on the viewers – a fact its social storyline needs in order to make people angry.