Movie Review: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

By Russell Baillie

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Rating: 2/5 out of 5
Verdict: Too big to fail? Nope.

Michael Douglas in  Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps . Photo / Supplied
Michael Douglas in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps . Photo / Supplied

Coming out a few months after the 1987 stockmarket crash, the original Wall Street might have timed its commentary on the era's quick-buck culture to perfection.

Though really, it just turned Michael Douglas's Gordon Gekko into something of a role model, even if he did end up on the inside for insider trading. He became the Dirty Harry of business.

Oliver Stone's original was a relatively simple tale of a sorcerer's apprentice confronting the moral reality of Gekko's financial wizardry. And it didn't require any business acumen to enjoy.

By comparison, this 23-years-later sequel desperately wants to educate, illustrate, and elaborate on the mindset of the Wall St class of 2008 and on the true meaning of that phrase "too big to fail".

It also wants to have a Gekko family saga and a love story.

It wants to have some dark financial conspiracy switcheroos involving an entity calling no attention to itself by being branded "The Locust Fund".

It also wants to ponder - complete with some fairly uninspired graphics - the brave new but apparently underfunded world of alternative energy.

So much so that it can at times feel like the sequel to An Inconvenient Truth as well as the further slick-haired adventures of old Gordy baby.

And Douglas is given plenty of time to Gekko about the place, getting in the face of the Street's new great white shark, Bretton James (Josh Brolin).

So no wonder it feels too long, too stuffed and too contrived and incoherent.

Its main characters and their motivations seem to bend with the breeze blowing through the holes in Stone's mounting plots.

Daughter Winnie Gekko (a permanently misty-eyed Carey Mulligan) gets the worst of it, staunchly independent in one reel, easily brought around in the next, despite being behind a seeming paragon of New Media virtue as the editor of a liberal/green news website.

She does have some chemistry with her real-life bloke LaBeouf, here in the role of ambitious young trader falling foul of his mentors. Only he too is a character of madly wavering and conflicting motivations.

And as far as his performance goes, when LaBeouf was applying for the job of film star, didn't anyone check his references?

Oh well. The film has a nice soundtrack from David Byrne. Apt choice, for like Gekko, the Talking Head frontman spent his high-earning 80s wearing a very big suit.

Cast: Michael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf, Carey Mulligan, Josh Brolin
Director: Oliver Stone Rating: M
Running time: 133 Minutes

- TimeOut

- NZ Herald

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