India Box-office Rating:
Star cast: Michael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf, Josh Brolin and Carey Mulligan
Plot: Michael Douglas, the Gordon Gekko from the film, Wall Street, is released from jail after eight years. He hatches a neat plan to get back his trust money from his estranged daughter, Carey Mulligan, who is dating a smart Wall Street punter, Shia LaBeouf. Fortunately for him, the US economy starts collapsing around the same time due to the sub-prime crisis. However, Shia’s world collapses even as he tries to befriend his future father-in-law and fund a $100 million dollar green energy project against all odds.
What’s Good: The interesting and relevant story; Shia LaBeouf and Michael Douglas’ realistic performances; the classy camerawork–New York has been captured very well.
What’s Bad: The nitty-gritties of the financial meltdown, which will not be comprehended by all, and a very predictable climax.
Verdict: Although Oliver Stone’s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps might be a faint shadow of his original 1987 film, Wall Street, the film entertains by mixing financial greed with human emotions.
Loo Break: None at all!
Oliver Stone’s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps stars off from where his 1987 film, Wall Street, ended. So, the high-flying stock broker, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) – infamous for his “Greed is good” dialogue – is released from jail after serving a sentence of eight years for insider trading. Once out, he starts eking out a living by publishing a book on his experiences as a broker and giving talks on how the American financial market is headed for an inevitable crash.
In New York, Gekko’s estranged daughter, Winnie (Carey Mulligan), runs a small leftist website and is in love with a well-to-do Wall Street investment banker, Jake Moore (Shia LaBeouf). Jake pulls out all stops to get funding for his pet project, a $100 million green energy project. Unfortunately, his dreams are crushed as his company goes under because of a rumour spread by its competitor, Bretton James (Josh Brolin). The US Government Treasury and the Federal Reserve refuse to bail out the company on the bogey of ‘moral hazard’ i.e. what if the bailed out company defaults again. Jake’s world is shattered as his mentor and boss, Wall Street giant, Louis Zabel (Frank Langella), commits suicide. However, in this moment of crisis, Jake proposes marriage to Winnie, who agrees.
In the meanwhile, Jake surreptitiously meets Gordon Gekko and takes a liking to him. He even seeks information from Gekko and, in turn, arranges a meeting with Winnie, well aware of the fact that Winnie would not take kindly to it. At dinner, Winnie sees that Gekko has not changed, and is still the greedy and egoistical person that he was, and she storms out, warning Jake to stay away from Gekko. Nevertheless, Jake keeps meeting Gekko and even takes up a job with Bretton James, who offers him a job after Jake causes Bretton’s stock to fall in a single day. Jake does well at his new firm, and even convinces a Chinese investor to put his money into the green energy plant. At the home front, Winnie is pregnant and a marriage looks imminent. Till one fine day, the US sub-prime market collapses, taking all banks and financial institutions on the brink of bankruptcy. Jake, scared of letting his Green project fail, is presented a money laundering plan by Gekko. Does Jake take the offer? What happens when Winnie finds out? Do Winnie and Gekko ever reconcile? Does Gekko reclaim his glory in the world of finance? The rest of the film answers these questions.
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is based on the backdrop of the 2008 US financial meltdown. What is wonderful is how the scriptwriters Allan Loeb and Stephen Schiff have managed to draw in the audience’s attention by balancing the evil machinations of the financial world and Jake’s emotional state of mind. Although the film is peppered with financial jargon, it will make sense even to the lay viewer, who has rudimentary knowledge of what caused the biggest recession since 1929. Gordon Gekko may only be in a supporting role, with Jake taking up most of the screen time, but Gordon’s character (written by Allan Loeb and Stephen Schiff) is the star of the script. The writers have given a very clever twist to the story, which Gordon Gekko fans will truly relish. There are hardly any flaws to point out in the film except the climax, which atypically is a happy ending.
Oliver Stone, who had based the original Wall Street on his father, returns with a slickly made product. He manages the complex screenplay deftly, never easing on the pace of the film. His has adapted many real-world events in the film and even stock footage from financial channels, giving the film a realistic feel. He has also delved into the penury and pain caused by the crash, exposed – yet again – the greed that plagues Wall Street and yet kept the film’s entertainment quotient high.
Michael Douglas, as Gordon Gekko, is the star of the film. He executes his character with finesse, even though he is portrayed as an older and more sober guy. The audiences will love his dialogues, esoteric as they are. Shia LaBeouf will be loved by the audience for his restrained performance as the young and idealistic Jake Moore. His chemistry with Carey Mulligan – who has supported ably – will also be appreciated. Josh Brolin, as Bretton James; Susan Sarandon, as Jake’s Mother; and Frank Langella, as Louis Zabel, do fairly well.
The cinematography by Rodrigo Prieto (Amores Perros, Brokeback Mountain and Babel) is eye-catching. Prieto manages to capture the New York skyline beautifully through the extensive aerial footage in the film. Editing (David Brenner and Julie Monroe) is sharp. Original music (Craig Armstrong) keeps the viewer cued in.
All in all, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is a topical and entertaining film. Guys who read the pink papers, or are fans of ‘Wall Street’ will love it. Others might find the financial bit a little hard to stomach, but the film has enough meat for all. Thumbs up! However, in India, the film will appeal only to a select class of financially educated guys. It also won’t do too well at the Indian box office because of the below-the-mark promotion.