Sunday, September 26, 2010

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

It’s called Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps … but I did, for a good couple of minutes. Oliver Stone is always trying to say something with is films. This time around he’s trying to make a statement about how we got into this financial mess. There is enough blame to go around, according to Stone. Yet, he is saying too much and not doing enough. I’m sorry but watching a bunch of old white guys around a conference table is not exciting.

Wall Street picks up where we think it would. The embodiment of 80’s greed, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglass) is getting out of prison. A look at the old ‘mobile’ phone he brought in with him is a vivid reminder of how long he’s been away (it’s huge!). He’s out in a different world … one tettering on the edge of financial collapse.

Meanwhile, his estranged daughter, Winnie (Carey Mulligan), is the antithesis of dear old dad; she’s a idealistic do-gooder who runs a politically liberal website. Clearly, she’s got some unresolved issues with Daddy because she’s living with Jacob Moore (Shia LeBeouf) who is an up-and-coming Wall Street trader with his own daddy issues. His surrogate dad is Louis Zabel (Frank Langella), who owns and runs a major brokerage company.

When the markets begin to crash, it’s Zabel’s firm (like Goldman Sachs) that is sacrificed. A despondent Zabel steps in front a subway car, another casualty of the economic disaster. However, there to pick up the pieces is Bretton James (Josh Brolin) an investment banker who is what Gordon Gekko used to be (and maybe still is).

Stone gives Gekko a monologue that updates his Greed is Good speech from the first film. This time around, the speech is Greed Is Legal and ALL of Us Are Guilty of Being Greedy. Basically, I could have left after that speech (several women in my audience did leave well before the end) because it just kept droning on and on and never really took off.

I wasn’t invested in these characters. I was bored. Susan Sarandon as Jacob’s over-extended real estate agent mom is under-used and I never really connected with Mulligan’s Winnie either. Shia LeBeouf was serviceable but not much more. And although this is billed as Michael Douglass’s movie, he was surprisingly absent from about the first 20 minutes. Make no mistake about it, this movie is not Gekko’s story. In his defense, the first film wasn’t about him either. It was about Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) and his dad (Emilio Estevez). This movie is about Jacob Moore (LeBeouf). The difference is that the story this time around isn’t nearly as compelling or engaging.

Having said that, Sheen makes a cameo as Fox which, for me, was the most entertaining scene in the film. Otherwise, sleep on Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.

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