Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps: A Movie Well Worth Your Investment

24 09 2010

A sequel to 1987’s Wall Street, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is director Oliver Stone’s response to the recent U.S. financial crisis. Here’s the breakdown:

After the death of his mentor, Jake Moore (Shia LaBeouf) turns to Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) for help. Gekko’s recent release from prison (after being incarcerated for financial crimes he committed in the first film) has made him a sort of superstar in the eyes of many – except his own daughter, Winnie (Carey Mulligan), who is engaged to Jake. Gekko agrees to help Jake learn the tricks of the trade and bring down his rival, Bretton James (Josh Brolin), if Jake will help Gekko reconnect with his estranged daughter. But deals with the devil rarely go as planned.

The Monkey: Oliver Stone knows how to make a good movie. Everything from the lighting to the music, costumes to camera shots, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is sleek and sophisticated. Add an amazingly talented cast to the mix and you have yourself a quality film.

While Douglas forms the backbone of the story, his supporting cast does a superb job of keeping up. LaBeouf proves he has what it takes to be a serious actor. His ambitious and naïve Jake is the perfect role for him – appropriate and not out of his range. Mulligan plays her part well. While it won’t win her any awards, her performance will put her on the map for many U.S. moviegoers; expect to see her a lot more in the future. Brolin plays the corporate sleaze with zeal and a surprising amount of heart. It would have been easy to play the role one-note, but Brolin manages to create a complex character that truly contends with the rest of the cast. I also have to point out, despite her sparse screen time, Susan Sarandon was a delight to watch. Her selfish and rather pathetic portrayal of Jake’s mother was spot-on.

Many might complain that the movie is far too complicated, with large sections of the plot dealing with intricate and complex financial discussions that will go over most people’s heads. While this is true, it’s a testament to the quality of acting and the success of the script that I didn’t care. The characters are believable and sympathetic enough to carry the story, and I didn’t feel like I was missing the heart of the movie just because I’m not a stockbroker. Although, if you are financially literate, the movie might offer up another layer of enjoyment that I missed. It certainly gives a fascinating look into the recent financial upheavals.

The Weasel: The movie had several non-sequitur moments that I’m still trying to figure out, including odd, computer-generated montage scenes and a particularly out-of-place phone conversation where a form of speech bubble was employed. These moments marred an otherwise polished film.

The movie’s climax was a bit of a stretch. Stone shoehorned his characters into an ending he envisioned, but failed to earn. The character arcs were abrupt to the point of unbelievability, especially for Gordon Gekko. While I’m all for leaving audiences with a happy ending full of positivity and hope, without earning it, you run the risk of discrediting yourself, and the story.

A smart film with award-worthy performances. Unfortunately, doesn’t quite live up to its ending.

3.5 Death Stars out of 5

What do you think? Is Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps a successful sequel? Was the ending satisfying? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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2 responses

25 09 2010

For someone who has seen the original Wall Street close to 20 times, MNS really didn’t have any connection or relation to its original. First thing you can’t help but notice about some of the actors and background artist is the geriatrics and bad plastic surgery? With Eli Wallach, you can pick your choice of either impression; from an embalmed corpse who snuck out of his open casket or an resident at a retirement home given all the facial twitches in incoherent expressions he made. And god bless Sylvia Miles, but come on…..I loved it when we kept getting a glimpse of her shaky, arthritic hands! And what’s up with her wig, reminds you of those jabbering monkeys wearing clothes playing people all lopsided! My guess is these were some of Ollies old cronies.

The story was weak, Winnie who didn’t exist during the original though she did have some Sean Young features, but, in my humble opinion it would have been better to keep Rudy alive. As for Josh Brolin’s character – Bretton James being and looking the part of age 42 which would have made him the age of 19 during the original and 23 years old when he setup and testified against Gordon Gekko back in 1990. Plus his portrayal of an antagonistic wasn’t strong enough nor convincing.

Charlie Sheen’s cameo didn’t come off to well either. Coming off smirking with two young attractive women on each of his side, you can’t help but get the impression of a possible threesome somewhere in the bathroom later in the evening? And when Gekko asks Fox about how BlueStar Airlines is doing these days, he replies he sold it for more money! Uh….. wasn’t that what Gekko originally wanted to do 23 years prior before Fox pulled the rug from under him? I would have loved it if Bud Fox would have come off saying “Blue Horseshoe loves Anacot Steel” instead of “Gordon Gekko”.

Enough said!

26 09 2010

Thanks for the comment! I’ll definitely need to see the first one and see how the second one compares!

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