Published on: October 4, 2010
I screwed up.
Early last week, I made a quick reference to Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
, promising an more extensive review on Friday.
And then, to be perfectly honest, I forgot. And then got a bunch of emails from members of the MNB community who remembered and wanted to remind me of my negligence.
Sorry about that.
Anyway, here are my thoughts about the sequel to Wall Street
If there’s one thing the moviegoer should not expect from an Oliver Stone movie, it is restraint and subtlety. On that score, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
does not disappoint - it is a big, fast moving train of a movie, with one terrific engine. Michael Douglas returns as Gordon Gekko, the “greed is good” financier who ended the first movie going to jail for illegal stock trading, and as this movie begins, he’s getting out of jail - with no friends, an old suit, long graying hair and a cell phone the size of a brick. And Douglas is terrific, moving from moments of self-pity to a kind of rebirth as the disarmingly frank and not entirely trustworthy author of a book predicting the financial collapse in the months before the actual disaster struck in October 2008.
The problem is that in this movie, Gekko is a supporting character, and Douglas is off screen for too long, too often. Instead, the main characters are Shia LaBeouf as a stock trader trying to fund a company involved in alternative energy research; Carey Mulligan as Gekko’s estranged daughter and LaBeouf’s girlfriend; and Josh Brolin as a stockbrokerage CEO who makes Gekko look like Mother Theresa.
While the story is interesting - and reminds us through news clips of just how close the financial world came to the precipice two years ago - eventually the story runs out of gas because Douglas/Gekko, who is always the most interesting person in the room, just isn’t in it often enough. I enjoyed Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
but came away vaguely dissatisfied. I think Stone probably should have ended the movie about 15 minutes sooner, on a note of ambiguity, instead of reaching for a kind of closure that doesn’t rally work.
So Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
is pretty good, but not great...except as a reminder of what a terrific talent Michael Douglas is and always has been. There are moments here where his age makes him resemble his dad, Kirk Douglas, almost eerily; there are other moments when he’s smoking a cigar when it is hard not to think about the fact that he currently is being treated for throat cancer, in part attributed to his long history as a smoker. Here’s hoping that Douglas has lots more movies left in him.