Sunday, October 31, 2010

Review: Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps

The first Wall Street was one in a fairly long string of excellent Oliver Stone movies (Platoon still ranks in the very top (3?) of the best war movies of all time.)  Wall Street gave us Gordon Gekko and a perfect allegory for the '80s' banker.  The film was sharp, has memorable lines (many a businessman has put "Greed—for lack of a better word—is good" on his Facebook page) and was an accurate depiction of the workings of Wall Street.
The sequel is another matter.  Set around 2008, right before the shit hits the fan for the financial crises, Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps resurrects Michael Douglas as the infamous Gordon Gekko and brings in Shia LaBeouf as his soon-to-be son-in-law/protégé.  Douglas leaves prison after an eight-year stint (plus six in court) and tries to redeem himself by penning a book aptly name Is Greed Good? and going on a lecture circuit of how the economy is heading for the shitter and it's everyone's fault.  LaBeouf plays a successful young trader trying to keep investment inside his baby, a company attempting fusion.  His girlfriend, playing Gekko's estranged daughter, is Carey Mulligan, who also runs an up-and-coming liberal news site.  They get engaged, but not before LaBeouf's mentor throws himself under a subway train because his faulting investment bank won't be bailed out by a consortium of the Federal Reserve and other banks, led by the new villain played by Josh Brolin.  The rest of the film revolves around LaBeouf trying to stick it to Brolin, and trying to enlist Douglas to help him (for the cost of causing a reconciliation between father and daughter.)
In short, Money Never Sleeps isn't half as smart as the original.  It's essentially a polemic and pseudo-documentary of the current crisis, trying to show Americans how stupid everyone has been and how the guys at the top were the dumbest of all.  (Susan Sharandon plays LaBeouf's mother, a real estate agent, who clings to the idea that she can sell her oversized, overpriced mansions in a few weeks.  LaBeouf repeatedly gives her large sums of cash, for which she pleads like a pathetic junky.)  Most of the characters go on long tirades that seem like they were ripped from The Wall Street Journal or something Michael Lewis wrote for Vanity Fair.
Besides that, the actual quality of the film is pretty low.  There are a plethora of entirely unnecessary cut-scenes, crappy CGI, and plenty of graphics that annoy rather than enhance.  It's like Stone has forgotten how to direct and reverted to some eighteen-year-old with a Final Cut Pro mindset.  The attempts at being smart with the graphics goes the way of George Lucas, in that they interfere with the story rather than enhance it.  According to Wikipedia, Carey Mulligan talked Stone into augmenting Winnie Gekko's role, a mistake that Stone should have shut down when it was first suggested.
Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps only partially succeeds in what it set out to do.  Most of all, it's just like it's title: a cast off bit of dialogue from the original.

Score: C


Jackie said...

This is Awesome, happy Halloween btw !

Anonymous said...

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