Money Should Go Back to Sleep

16 Dec
This overly-cinematic follow-up to “Wall Street” from the 1980s tried too hard to outdo the original movie. Its unrealistic plot was hard to follow and ruined the enjoyment of what could have been a successful sequel. — Chris

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (PG) Rating: Two and 1/2 Stars out of Five

The title to this review is, perhaps, a bit misleading. I did not hate or even really dislike the sequel to the 1987 blockbuster Wall Street that much. The story was essentially similar: A young stockbroker, Jacob Moore (Shia Labeouf), is quickly and easily seduced by the prospect of easy money, even if the means in which he receives it may be edging on illegality, and Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) is just the veteran mentor to show the young naive how to live life to the fullest. In the film, he has recently been released from serving time in prison for doing essentially the exact same thing in the 80’s. The director simply had to transpose his plot onto the recent economic crash and recession. This did not bother me; I had not seen the preceding film, so I did not mind.

The negativity I feel toward the film is due to the resolution–it was much too cinematic. The characters all found some resolution, even if it was small. Resolution is an elemental point of storytelling; in the film it was appropriate that some should be found. However, sacrificing true representation of the facts for a feel-good, happy ending is unacceptable. America is still very much in financial limbo, the economy is not “healed,” and (I hope) most stockbrokers involved in illegal trading are in jail. There is no big, happy ending in real life. WE ARE STILL IN TROUBLE. We are not resolved!

Moore and Gekko should have had to pay for their involvement in “dirty” trading. They should not have gotten off clean. The two, so-called “antiheros” even finished the movie happier then they were at the start; they were almost unfazed by the horrible mess that they caused. This conclusion is neither true nor fair. In my opinion, the movie was too much too soon–the unrealistic, perfect resolution at a time when almost nothing has been resolved was inappropriate, to say the least.

Visually, the movie was of good quality, with realistic, yet average cinematography and a few parlor-trick camera angles, in other words, the usual “movie” experience. The characters walked through the crowded streets and rode on the airless subways on location, giving the movie an almost eerie feeling. The financial terms were never explained well enough for the layperson to comprehend, so one watched the movie with the same glazed unsuspecting look as he did when the actual financial crisis struck.

The movie featured moments of such rapid movement and flashing lighting that one felt as though the world were spinning round him. Other shots sported gaudy decor accented by an overwhelming, deep red. Both of these scenes, in my opinion, were attempts to justify the actions of the brokers involved in the crash. They tried to express a feeling of overwhelming lust for fortune combined with a sense of drunken stupor in which the vibrant lights of Times Square blurred into one massive maze of swirling color, indiscernible to the naked eye, to express the ethereal feelings which these men and women felt, swept up in the moment. They yielded an effect similar to a small child, who has been found standing next to the Mona Lisa, ripped and stained on the floor, crying, “I didn’t do it! Its your own fault for letting me look at it!”

I applaud the director, Oliver Stone, for trying to see both sides of this story, but he might have waited until America’s hatred of stockbrokers died down a bit before he tried diplomacy.

I may be alone in my judgement, for many thought that the movie was “thrilling, riveting, a flashy, free wheelin’ affair,” but mostly they gush over how well Michael Douglas fit back into his role and how appropriate the actors were. Almost none speak of the plot, and if they do, it is in passing, such as, “Shia Lebeouf plays the Charlie Sheen role,” suggesting that the plot is essentially identical for at least the main character.

But, as I said, I did not hate or even really dislike the movie that much, and it is simply my personal opinion that this movie is ahead of its time. I believe I would have loved the film if the resolution in the movie had already happened in the non-Gekkonian stock market. — James

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One Response to “Money Should Go Back to Sleep”

  1. Dot Davis December 19, 2010 at 4:35 pm #

    Wow! What a brilliant review! It’s also a well-deserved indictment of Hollywood, by the way. You show a lot of insight and clear thinking.

    The suicide of Bernie Madoff’s son last week is about as grapic an example as we’ll ever find on the grim aftermath of white-collar crime. (From what I read, the son was distraught over the ruination of this name—and possibly his own complicity?? We’ll never know.) At any rate, as you infer, it’s not “victimless”!

    I think I’ll just enjoy your review and skip the movie. Maybe I’ll catch it on some movie channel in 10 years, if nothing else is on. Thanks, James!

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