Between Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and Tron Legacy, we’ve got the beginnings for calling 2010 the year of the distant sequel. How successful can these films be when trying to follow up on something that many in the audience may not have remembered? While Tron Legacy is still a few months away, we can dissect the new Wall Street film that hit theaters this weekend. Who’s back for more stock gamblings and corporate overthrows? Who’s new to the scene? Let’s open the floor and find out.
Gordon Gekko…a name synonymous with greed; albeit a fictitious one. It’s one of those few non sci-fi characters that people seem to remember well in the realm of pop culture. The original film, a product of 1987, featured the likes of Michael Douglas, Charlie Sheen, and Daryl Hannah. You may remember Sheen as Bud Fox, the proverbial young buck with an insatiable hunger for bigger game on Wall Street. Enter Gordon Gekko, a conscienceless but successful stock broker who takes Fox under his wing, makes him rich, and turns on him…hey it’s business, nothing personal. Fox gets his revenge by cooperating with the Feds and gets Gekko to admit to insider trading. It’s eight years in the slammer for the G-squared money monster.
Now it’s 2008 and Gekko (Michael Douglas) has served his time and paid his dues behind bars. He’s a free man now and writes a book to gain some of his lost wealth back (who doesn’t nowadays?). Upon doing so, he is introduced to Jake Moore (Shia LaBeouf). Moore is not only an aspiring broker, (not all that different from Bud Fox a few decades prior), but is also engaged to Gekko’s estranged daughter, Winnie (Carey Mulligan). From this point on, the film excels at toying with the audience in such a way that you don’t know if Gekko’s intentions to reunite with his daughter are sincere or if he’s playing his son-in-law to-be for his own profitability.
Josh Brolin also enters the film’s roster as Bretton James; a bigwig at economical powerhouse Churchill Schwartz. Brolin’s character, while almost delivering the same level of cocky confidence as Gekko, serves as another side in the multi-faceted puzzle of corporate undermining that he so much enjoys to partake in. Coming off of a forgettable performance in an abysmal movie (Jonah Hex), Brolin redeems his acting cred in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. Also supporting was Carey Mulligan opposite Shia LaBeouf. To say Mulligan does a fine job in front of the camera is an understatement. She performed quite well in delivering her character’s emotions as well as her arguments; not necessarily in the verbally combative manner, but more so along the lines of getting her point across to her dollar-sign-googly-eyed fiancé.
At 133 minutes, the film has some substantial runtime and even teeters on the brink of tedious through some of its scenes, specifically in the latter half. Rest assured, however, that the deliberateness of how some of the sequences play out is necessary to spin the web of backstabbing and lies that paint the picture of a darker side of Wall Street. As for the film’s editing, it used some methods that were a bit out of date, even archaic, that seemed to disconnect from the emotion of a scene. Whether it was a flashback overlay or an animated moment, it just felt like these few moments interrupted attention instead of retaining it.
After all was said and done and the market had closed, it’s safe to say Oliver Stone returned to Wall Street with a successful sequel. Without a doubt, the acting is one of the film’s strongest attributes, which also features appearances by Susan Sarandon and Frank Langella. Michael Douglas is as deceptively clever as ever and Shia LaBeouf demonstrates his versatility as an actor. The two share a decent amount of screen time and the teacher/apprentice dialogue is as enjoyably convincing as is the peer to peer banter. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is worth a cinema viewing with financial buffs and day traders likely appreciating it even more than the layman due to its content. Oliver Stone has delivered a solid commodity here. I give this film a ‘B’ for ‘buy’.