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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

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Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

Filmmaker Oliver Stone's followup to his 1987 hit Wall Street is a major disappointment. It appears the writer/director has dropped the ball this time around. Too long and boring, the highly anticipated sequel co-written by Stone, Allan Loeb and Stephen Schiff, is filled with lots of incomprehensible wall street jargon, board meetings, bubble metaphors, and a miscast Shia La Beouf in a lead role opposite Michael Douglas, who returns as the character that won him an Academy Award.

While the original film was all about greed, now revenge, reconciliation and redemption is added to the mix.

Set during 2008's economic collapse, Shia Le Beouf plays Jacob Moore, a smart, ambitious Wall Street trader who forms a mutually beneficial alliance with Gordon Gekko who, after being released from prison after serving an eight year term for insider trading, embarks on a book signing tour and series of speaking engagements to promote his new book, 'Is Greed Good?'

Jake seems to have it all, a great paying job as a wall street trader for investment firm Keller Zabel, and shares a spacious Manhattan loft with his live in girlfriend. His world comes crashing down when Jacob's boss and father figure, Louis Zabel (Frank Langella) commits suicide by throwing himself on the tracks of an oncoming subway train. Jake wants revenge towards the man he holds responsible, ruthless and conniving Bretton James (Josh Brolin) the head of rival firm, Churchill Schwartz, for spreading false information that led to Zabel's company downfall and ultimately his death.

The thing is, Jake's girlfriend Winnie (doe eyed, pixie coiffed Carey Mulligan, who spends most of the time looking sad or crying) just happens to be Gekko's estranged daughter. She wants nothing to do with her father or what he stands for (then why is she with Jake?) and blames him for the death of her brother. When Jake is able to meet up with Gekko after one of his lectures, Gekko agrees to aid Jake in seeking his revenge in exchange for helping form a reconciliation with Winnie, though he might really have a secret agenda up his sleeve.

Based on performances, Michael Douglas, once again filling the shoes of his iconic villainous character, is as commanding as ever and is missed whenever he isn't in a scene. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the much younger Shia LeBeouf who is unevenly matched with and upstaged by Douglas. Shia lacks the charisma and screen power as well as chemistry with Mulligan and appears ill fitted to his role. Although trying his best, he cannot hold a candle to his terrific co-stars, Josh Brolin who delivers a deliciously evil, first rate performance and the wonderful Frank Langella, who doesn't get enough screen time. Susan Sarandon, employing an awful New York accent, is wasted as Sylvia, Jake's money grubbing realtor mother who becomes a victim of the the housing market downturn.

There are a few worthwhile moments such as the clever cameo appearance of Charlie Sheen as Gekko's former Wall Street protege, in a scene that has him bumping into his long ago mentor. Director Stone also appears in a cameo role. And, for those movie buffs who don't want to miss a thing, pay special attention to the scene where Gekko is being fitted for a suit by a tailor in London. On the background wall hangs a framed photo of Kirk Douglas, Michael's dad. At the screening I attended, I seemed to be the only one who noticed it.

When it comes down to it, the film really IS all about money and greed; that is, Oliver Stone's major focus over rewarding narrative was to bring in tons of box office bucks. It is the only conclusion I can come up with why he made this less than satisfying sequel that isn't nearly as slick and entertaining as the original.

 


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