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Movie Review: Wall Street - Money Never Sleeps

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

Movie: Wall Street - Money Never Sleeps
Starring: Michael Douglas, Shia Labeouf, Carey Mulligan
Director: Oliver Stone

It would seem like the perfect time for an updated version of a movie like Wall Street. With the financial meltdown and subsequent bailout of US banking system there is a lot of new material to be covered. Which ends up being one of the main challenges for this film. How do you tackle such a complex and historic moment and also tell a more human story? "Money Never Sleeps" ambitiously tries to do just that but neither story is given the justice that it deserves. Director Oliver Stone seems to take on more than he can handle, although there are some bright spots along the way. As the movie opens Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) is finally being released from prison for insider trading and tax invasion. No one is there on the outside to greet him. It seems everyone has forgotten about him. The movie then switches gears to the story of Jake Moore (Shia Labeouf) who is quite possibly the world's nicest stockbroker. He invests based on the actual value of companies and not on pure speculation. He's even convinced his firm to invest heavily in green fusion energy technology. Jake's girlfriend also just happens to be Winnie Gekko (Carey Mulligan) Gordon Gekko's estranged  daughter. Mirroring real life events Jake's financial firm is targeted by false rumours and stock price manipulation to take the first fall of the financial crisis. Jake's mentor Louis Zabel (Frank Langella) distraught from the fall his company has taken, takes his own life, stepping in front of an on coming train. It's at this point that Jake seeks out Gekko at one of his lectures. Gekko rails against the excesses and corruption that are like a cancer upon the world. It seems he is a changed man no longer concerned with Wall Street. Jake needs him to help him find out who targeted his company. Gekko convinces Jake he needs to help him reunite with his daughter.  Should Jake trust Gekko? Is he truly a changed man? Will Jake get the payback he yearns for? Will he become just as corrupt as those he hates?

"Money Never Sleeps" manages to answer all these questions suitably enough but in an unfocused jumbled manner. Part of the problem is that we are supposed to be witnessing a historic financial collapse but seen through the eyes of the men involved it all comes off as artificial as a game of monopoly. There is nothing real on the line for these men. Their lives remain excessive and indulgent throughout the ordeal. Maybe that is an accurate portrayal but the movie seems to be more in awe of this than angered by it.  Another problem is Gekko as played by Michael Douglas is probably the best part of the film but he is not given nearly enough to do. He spends most of the time sidelined from the actual financial game play. After the initial scene the movie takes about an hour to get back to Gekko's story. And how his story ends rings false and feels cheap. Some characters could be dropped altogether such as Jake's mother who happens to be a real estate investor.  Her whole role seems to be to borrow money from Jake and remind people that there really was a financial collapse. All these things pile up making the focus of the film unclear and hard to follow. It's like the movie couldn't decide whether to be intriguing fiction or a dry documentary. Mixing both just doesn't work on any level.

As I brought earlier though there are some bright spots along the way. Most notably Michael Douglas and the Gordon Gekko character. Played with depth and charisma you never know quite what he has up his sleeve. Plus his speeches and dialogue  have to be the highlight of the film. His mentor protege relationship with Jake is nice as well although his intentions end up being a little unsophisticated for a man of his stature. Shia Labeouf does well in his role but it's very hard to believe that he is so innocent and earnest. A guy like him simply would never make it in today's Wall Street. Josh Brolin is an excellent villain as James Britton the man who we find out is behind Zabel's collapse.

Oliver Stone's directing is good, infusing ho-hum moments with excitement that they don't really deserve. He shows New York City in a way that makes it seem like the heart of the entire world. If only the story could actually match the dramatic style used then we would really have something. As it is Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is an ambitious but ultimately jumbled and unfocused film that never quite knows what it wants to be. Gordon Gekko is still a great character but this movie doesn't know how he would fit into today's Wall Street. You can buy Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps on DVD or Blu-ray from our online store.

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April 10, 2011 at 1:54 PM

I like Wall Street a lot.I like the story line and theme.Money never sleep is the quote which does full justice to the movie.I would say that this movie deserve to be watched.

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