MovieMantz Review: ‘Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps’
First Published: September 23, 2010 3:19 PM EDT Credit: Twentieth Century Fox
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- “Exile on ‘Wall Street’”
“Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” Shia LaBeouf, Carey Mulligan, Michael Douglas Directed by Oliver Stone
“Greed…is good.” Gordon Gekko, “Wall Street”
With those three words, Gordon Gekko became a veritable rock star to a whole generation of aggressive stockbrokers who wanted to get rich quick and ask questions later (if at all). Back in 1987, “Wall Street” was generally regarded as a very good movie that featured an Oscar-winning performance from Michael Douglas. But it was the passage of time that elevated it to landmark status, thanks to objective hindsight that solidified its accurate and gritty depiction of corporate greed.
It’s too soon to say whether or not time will be as kind to its sequel, but for now, “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” is also a very good movie, even if its impact falls short of its predecessor. The story is timely and relevant; the performances are strong and committed. But it tries too hard to achieve what the first movie did so effortlessly, and the subplot – about Gekko’s attempted reconciliation with his estranged daughter – feels a little too cliché-ridden and contrived.
After serving time for securities fraud, Gordon Gekko – the former King of Wall Street – is now a humbled man who has two chances to redeem himself. One involves helping an idealistic young trader named Jake Moore (Shia LaBeouf) invest in a promising new green energy source, while the other involves mending his broken relationship with his liberal daughter (Carey Mulligan), who just so happens to be dating Moore. On the surface, Gekko indeed appears to be a changed man – but can a leopard really change its spots?
The first “Wall Street” worked well enough as a stand-alone film, but after the economic meltdown of 2008 kick-started the worst recession in modern history, the time was right for director Oliver Stone to once again unleash Gordon Gekko to the world. “Money Never Sleeps” is one of Stone’s more straightforward and commercially appealing films in recent years, and it’s fascinating to follow the story as the intricate screenplay – written by Allan Loeb and Stephen Schiff – traces the events that led to the implosion of the investment banks.
As far as protégés go, Shia LaBeouf lacks the edge that Charlie Sheen brought to the role of Bud Fox in the first movie (Sheen reprises his role briefly in “Money Never Sleeps”), but LaBeouf is certainly convincing with a role that transcends his past work (especially in the first two “Transformers” movies). Josh Brolin (who starred in Stone’s last movie, “W.”) is well cast as the younger Gekko-type investor who initially takes LaBeouf under his wing, but Carey Mulligan struggles a little more with a role that’s ridden with father-daughter clichés.
As far as sequels go, “Money Never Sleeps” is better than most, and it’s great to see Douglas reprise one of his most famous roles ever (next to “Fatal Attraction,” which also came out the same year as “Wall Street”). There’s a surprise twist that may divide moviegoers, and it has an ending that, while abrupt, leaves the door open for a third installment. To that extent, don’t rule out another film if “Money Never Sleeps” does well at the box office. After all, greed is still good, especially in Hollywood.
Verdict: SEE IT!
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