Thursday, December 30, 2010

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps - DVD Review


Starring Michael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf, Josh Brolin, Carey Mulligan, Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon, Eli Wallach, Austin Pendleton, Vanessa Ferlito and Jason Clarke.
Directed by Oliver Stone.

The 1987 movie holds up surprisingly well, and this sequel is a pretty decent, timely follow-up to how a handful of greedy people can ruin the lives of millions. Shia LaBeouf, he who risks overexposure between Indiana Jones 4 and the Transformers franchise, does well here, playing a hotshot Wall Street type named Jake who actually has a pet project he believes in - green energy. He's also really good at what he does; he makes money.

This one hits some of the same stanzas as the first one, but Gekko is different. Still wily and untrustworthy, but he acts as a mentor to Jake, whom he learns will be his son-in-law.

The movie does an amusing job of making it look like the 2008 financial collapse was the responsibility of a handful of old men with pocket-watches in a room with finely varnished furniture. It also shows how another handful of men were able to make millions off short-selling and then buying stock in those companies whom the government bailed out.

I kept thinking about how math geniuses at Harvard don't invent tangible things; they get into Wall Street. They make millions of dollars off of nothing but credit defaults swaps and derivatives and market manipulation. But that's neither here nor there.

Stone is back to form here. He's had some indulgent projects recently (Alexander, anyone?) but the narrative is smooth and the editing is swift without feeling choppy. And it's an absolute pleasure to see Douglas revisit his Gekko role.

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