Sunday, February 06, 2011

Wall Street - Money Never Sleeps

hey everyone

well, considering how much i loved the original Wall Street i must say i was, perhaps foolishly, really excited when a sequel was announced. even when they announced the fact that they had cast Shia LaBoeuf instead of, say, a recognized, proper (or even amateur) actor, i was still very keen to see this film. and now, thanks to the magic of DVD releases, i have indeed seen it.

the simple review for those who do not want spoilers is this : ho hum. a more involved and descrpitive review follows the poster for the film, but as usual a *** SPOILER WARNING *** applies.

the film picks up some twenty years after the events of the first film. Gordon Gekko, in an elaborate opening scene, has been out of prison for a few years, and apparently itching to get back into the "game" but, in appearance at least, as a different character. no longer the destroyer and the one you were warned of, he apparently fancies himself as the creator, and the one to rather issue warnings about others.

to this end, he befriends a young Wall Street dealer, Jake Moore, who just happens to be engaged to marry Gekko's daughter and only, as it turns out, surviving child. Gekko trades off Moore, promising help with finances for a new energy technology in return for helping his relationship with his daughter being restored.

on top of this, rounding off a nice little set of co-incidences, Gekko wishes to extract revenge on the man he believes was the reason he spent so long in jail, Bretton James. this is convenient, as Jake Moore has got it into his head that James cause the suicide of his friend and mentor, Louis Zabel, by exploiting the losses their firm experienced during the 2008 financial crisis.

there is, believe it or not, even more to the plot than i have listed here, all crammed into two hours. this, and the fact that a whole load of superfluous matters and forced into the story, are the major problem with this film. far, far too much is going on, and far too many assumptions are made about the audience will accept. it was the disillusioned Bud Fox that brought down Gekko in the original, or so you thought. apparently not by what is handed over here, somewhat undermining the linear nature of a sequel.

going back to superfluous, the opening sequence is a good example of how this film wastes time on trivial things instead of concentrating on the crux of the story. we get five minutes of Gekko being released, showing him collecting a woefully out of date cellphone and no one there to collect him at the prison gates. well, we kind of know that, some 20 years later, technology has moved on, and we also know the shark swims alone. why spoonfeed this kind of thing, then make assumptions that the audience will simply just "fill in the blanks" in regards to any twists in the last twenty years that Oliver Stone felt like popping in?

a convoluted tale of the sad fate of the Gekko children is also just plain distracting. her father going to prison and being sued for divorce for infidelity would surely have been enough motivation for the distance in the father-daughter relationship. not enough for Oliver Stone, though, and instead he introduces as reason for the breakdown in the relationship the death by drugs overdose of Gekko's son. this would be a son you saw fleetingly in the first film, never see here, and a character that is "developed" via conversations that have all the hallmarks of a script that would have been rejected by most second rate soap operas.

all of the above distractions and a few more act as a barrier stopping this film being what it should be. Wall Street was a brilliant, arguably definitive look at how money shaped the 1980s. Wall Street Money Never Sleeps could have been a reflective work on how things have changed with the collapse of that system. it isn't, sadly, instead using Wall Street as a mere background for a soap opera with - and get this - what must be a first for Oliver Stone, a relatively happy ending.

that said, it is not all bad news. Michael Douglas gives as exceptional and as brilliant a performance as Gekko as he can with a somewhat wanting script. he had done enough, i would have thought, to be at least one of the five nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars, but it appears the Academy disagrees. the revelation of a revelations in this film, however, is that Shia LaBoeuf is not only bearable in ths film, he is in fact - quite possibly for the first time ever - really, really good in the part. i never thought i would live to say those words, take this as reason enough to see the film.

Wall Street Money Never Sleeps does not tarnish nor disgrace the name of the original film in the way, say, a Godfather III tried to do. it isn't bad, but with an amazing source of material in the current world for usually brilliant observer Oliver Stone to tackle, it's just surprising the path he took here. if you loved the original film as much as i did then this is certainly worth watching, both for sheer curiosity and the fact that Charlie does indeed pop up and delivers the "blue horseshoe" line.

overall, i really hope that Wall Street Money Never Sleeps turned out the way it did because Mr Stone holds perhaps too much affection for his characters, and not because he's taking a "softer" approach with his films from here on out. it's a film that could have been great but isn't, but then again it could also have been real rubbish and thankfully it isn't.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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