Russell Baillie writes about movies for the Herald

Movie review: Is Money Monster worth your dollars?

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George Clooney gets his groove on, briefly, in Money Monster (Supplied)
George Clooney gets his groove on, briefly, in Money Monster (Supplied)

The Hollywood telling-off of Wall Street continues in Money Monster, a hostage thriller which also attempts to be a treatise on financial market ethics and media complicity.

But its juggling act loses some of its skittles along the way. And though the movie might have the likes of 70s movies Network or Dog Day Afternoon for its foundations, its attempt at getting mad-as-hell-and-not-going-to-take-it-any-more at Big Money is ultimately diluted by some increasingly preposterous plot twists and unlikely character epiphanies.

It's mostly a three-hander between George Clooney as a financial channel's resident singing dancing investment jester-guru (a figure clearly based on CNBC's Jim Cramer, who had a post-GFC mea culpa care of Jon Stewart), Julia Roberts as his protective studio director and Jack O'Connell who invades their Money Monster show armed with a gun and a bomb vest and takes over the programme.

O'Connell's working stiff has lost his inheritance on a buy recommendation for Ibis Clear Capital from Clooney's Lee Gates.

Despite his heavily armed fury, he just wants to know one thing: Where did his 60 grand actually go?

What follows, which inevitably has SWAT blokes doing unwise things, is surprisingly tension-free.

It does offer a couple of twists - some that suggest that its writers had tried to toss a "black comedy" skittle in too.

But it's movie with a fairly random sense of tone, mostly reflected by Clooney's character who is going from scared to defiant to co-operative and back again within a couple of scenes.

He's yet another TV frontman with his cool-headed director in his ear. But Holly Hunter and William Hurt in Broadcast News and Jeff Daniels and Emily Mortimer in The Newsroom did it much better.

Oh that's right. It's also about Wall Street screwing over the little guy. Quite forgot.

Then again, so does the movie as it locates a villain and Gates' show suddenly transforms from stock-spruiking sideshow to investigative journalism unit in a matter of minutes.

Yes, Clooney and Roberts might offer plenty of starpower but their characters are edge-free, while O'Connell seems to run out of puff.

Which might seem unusual for a film directed by accomplished actor Jodie Foster, someone who has been in plenty of great movies.

But this, her fourth feature, is proof she's yet to direct one. Her stocks won't rise after this.

Verdict: No, not on the money

Cast: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O'Connell

Director: Jodie Foster

Rating: Violence, offensive language & sex scenes

Running time: 99 mins

- NZ Herald

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