USA 2010 Directed by: Oliver Stone Written by: Allan Loeb, Stephen Schiff Story by: Bryan Burrough Produced by: Edward R. Pressman, Eric Kopeloff Cinematography by: Rodrigo Prieto Editing by: David Brenner, Julie Monroe Music by: Craig Armstrong Cast: Michael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf, Josh Brolin, Carey Mulligan, Eli Wallach, Susan Sarandon, Frank Langrella
It’s terribly easy to stand outside an event, and point fingers and criticize something for which I did not do. This would be my initiative thought into the web of “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.”
I was a big fan of the original “Wall Street” back in the ‘80s. It came at a time when an insider look was much welcomed and Oliver Stone did a fantastic job in shouting out the actions and consequences of being a drone of the Reaganomics era. At the end, the key player, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), sees himself put in prison for being a money-monger.
“Money Never Sleeps” picks up many years later, where Gekko is let out from prison, bare and equipped with only a cell phone that looked more like a Tonka toy truck. As he steps out of the gates he finds himself stranded and alone – no one’s there to pick him up. A pulled-up black limo unnerved him momentarily, only to see that it was a gang of black kids welcoming their rap-star dad. The message is clear: see kids, don’t do what this man did.
Gekko is later seen going on a book tour, putting his experience and words to the many hungry social and corporate climbers that want a piece of Gekko’s wisdom and swagger. Among that crowd is the young Jake Moore, played intensely as always by Shia LeBeouf, who also happens to be engaged with Gekko’s lost-touch and yet still innocent daughter. This is Jake’s only ticket in and he spins it like it’s nobody’s business.
And so, through manipulation, and supply and demand, Jake and Gekko start a relationship that isn’t exactly mentor-disciple, but nevertheless filled with lessons. It is through this that Stone tries to paint a world of corruption and wrongdoings in the age of a real-world financial meltdown. I have to give to Stone for his attempt to distill this whole fiasco in the last couple years. It’s simplified and romanticized. But so what? It makes for solid storytelling and it works – in a world of greed and hunger for power, everyone’s in shades of gray. The funny part is actually trying to comprehend the cinematography and editing, which are jerky, impulsive, random, and at times looked like a documentary presentation from 1987. And, maybe that’s Stone’s intention all along, to make you feel the stock market’s volatile behavior through the pacing of the film itself. Sometimes, just when you feel the film’s picking up, it suddenly slows down to a halt and drags its feel alongside the curb.
The cast is attentively brought together. Josh Brolin’s sinister Bretton James (Gekko’s arch nemesis) is so tasty to watch, while Gekko’s daughter is portrayed with ease and guts by Carey Mulligan, whose bland physicality is drowned out by her thunderous sensitivity. Toss in Susan Sarandon, Frank Langella and Eli Wallach who all chipped in their bricks to build up this great wall of idealized struggle of money and power, “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” comes together as one heart-felt and head-scratching epic. It’s after all, that Gordan Gekko sums up the film with much under-the-breath finality – after turning his stolen $100 million to more than $1 billion – that we are all doing our best regardless of knowing what we’re actually doing. How else would you look at this Stone production? Because he’s laughing all the way to the bank.
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