Movie Mind Says: Wait for PPV
If You Like This You Should Watch: Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
Better Than: The Trade
Worse Than: Wall Street, Michael Clayton
Starring: Michael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf, Josh Brolin
More than a few things have changed since the original Wall Street graced the big screen way back in 1987: the internet dawned and exploded, cell phones are no longer the enormous Zach Morris mini-satellites, and as the great Gordon Gekko said, “it seems now greed is legal.” Unfortunately something else that also changed is that Oliver Stone forgot what made the first Wall Street such a success. The original film was a story about people, not the economy. It was about relationships, and that very real emotion that tugs at every one of us in our daily lives: greed. Money Never Sleeps focuses more on integrating the last 5 years worth of CNBC stories than putting together an appealing film.
Gordon Gekko was a larger than life character who actually inspired many real people to dream of a future like his on Wall Street. It’s amazing how none of us saw that as foreboding. Charlie Sheen was the kid who wanted it all and didn’t care how he got it. In this modern-day version that plays out slightly better than a case study in an MBA class, we have none of that. The key relationship has been “Hollywood-ized” and turned into a love story with no true direction. In Bud Fox (Sheen) we had a character who we knew what drove him and what he wanted out of life. Now, we have a mish-mosh of characters and not a single one of them knows what they really want. I’m all for internal struggle and conflict in characters, but at some point we’re supposed to realize what makes them tick. Shia LaBeouf simply doesn’t have the chops to make that work.
The story picks up with Gekko being released from jail and feeling very alone. His family all left him, he lost his son, and he is now more of a punch line than a financial player. His only relevance these days is his book tour. It sure seems like he is a different Gordon Gekko for quite a while, hair and all. Nonetheless, a softer and somewhat introspective Gordon Gekko was the best we got for the first half of the film. Whenever he was on screen, the film was tolerable, mostly for nostalgic purposes, but still tolerable. When it was just Jacob Moore (LaBeouf) and his future Mrs. (Gekko’s spawn) the film crawls at a snail’s pace. It’s not often you get to say this but I was longing for Charlie Sheen. On a rare pleasant note, I was impressed with Josh Brolin and he stole every scene he was in. Unfortunately he was just used as another extraneous character illustrating one of the financial miscues of our recent past.
I can’t give too much of a detailed plot explanation because it will ruin the only suspense the film can muster. Even with some moderate tension built into the climax, the end just simply was a waste. It felt like they chopped off the final 10 minutes of a film that was already 20 minutes too long. I know it’s a tough standard to hold Money Never Sleeps to the original Wall Street, but I was hoping for so much more than I got. I certainly didn’t need to sit through a lecture reminding us of all the disgusting financial crimes and failings of the last few years. All in all you would be better off remembering the original film for everything this sequel isn’t.
Interesting Cameo Appearance: Charlie Sheen (aka Bud Fox, the man who made this poor excuse for a sequel possible. His brief cameo appearance was one of the few memorable scenes and the closest thing to a nostalgic feeling about the original) as Bud Fox, for one last brief moment on-screen.
Gordon Gekko: Someone reminded me I once said “Greed is good”. Now it seems it’s legal. Because everyone is drinking the same Kool Aid.
Jacob Moore: If it weren’t for people who took risks, where would we be in this world?
Gordon Gekko: Why don’t you start calling me Gordon?
Winnie Gekko: He’s not who you think he is Jake!
Gordon Gekko: They took my life – and when I got out – who’s waiting for me? Nobody!
Gordon Gekko: Payback. Except I’m not in that business anymore – because the one thing I learned in jail is that money is not the prime asset in life. Time is.
Gordon Gekko: Idealism kills every deal.
Gordon Gekko: The mother of all evil is speculation.
Bud Fox: So, does Blue Horseshoe still love Anacott Steel?
Gordon Gekko: Bulls make money. Bears make money. Pigs? They get slaughtered.
Gordon Gekko: Money is a bitch that never sleeps!