Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
Starring Shia LaBeouf, Michael Douglas, Carey Mulligan, and Josh Brolin
Directed by Oliver Stone
Rated PG-13 for brief strong language and thematic elements
Appropriate for ages 15+
It’s been 23 years since the original Wall Street hit theaters and since that time Gordon Gekko has served his time in prison for insider trading and is now back in New York, a changed man, promoting his book about the life he used to lead. But the film is not really about Gordon Gekko. Instead, Shia LaBeouf is a young trader engaged to Gekko’s daughter (Mulligan) who badly wants revenge on the man (Brolin) who brought down his boss and mentor as well as caused him to commit suicide. The only problem is that the daughter wants nothing to do with her father and LaBeouf needs Gekko’s mentoring in order carry out the vendetta.
This whole plot is all good and fine were it not for Stone losing sight at what he used to be best at: stirring up controversy. It’s almost as if he read Too Big To Fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin and rather than recreating history and giving moviegoers something to chew on, he leaves some of the same situations but changes the names of the players and companies to where some of it is recognizable, some is a direct copy, and some of it a complete fabrication. While it’s his story and he’s free to do whatever he wants to with it, this tale is extremely boring compared to the reality. Were he to do something like JFK with the Finance industry, throwing Gekko in the mix, he might be looking at an Oscar. Instead the movie might simply break even.
Acting-wise, the film is very uneven. While Douglas is always great and this film is no different, LaBeouf fails to impress and Mulligan, who showed great promise in last year’s An Education, comes off as a whiny little brat with daddy issues.
The most disappointing features of the film though were the distracting directing style of Stone, who normally isn’t like this, and the horrible choice in music. Somebody obviously likes David Byrne and Brian Eno, but to have every song of the movie sung by them felt like a bad 80’s comedy starring Dudley Moore, not a contemporary movie about the financial crash that had such a great impact on all of our lives.
The fact is, this movie could have been great. All of the elements are there. Perhaps the filmmakers didn’t have the intelligence to pull off a story that had such important significance. That’s hard to believe given Stone’s history. But seeing the failures of his past decade plus of directing, I think it can only be assumed that he has lost his touch. C