September 23, 2010
Money, money, money, MONEY... watching Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps may remind you of Donald Trump. That's because it's like Donald Trump... full of swagger, big talk, power suits, business tycoons, a young apprentice, a smug look and the stock exchange... it all feeds back to the mantra "Money Never Sleeps" as uttered by Gordon Gekko in the original Wall Street. The first Wall Street film identified a culture, introduced a new wave of technology and embraced the love of money as something of a religion with one of many quotable quotes... "Greed is Good.".
Oliver Stone's cutting edge 1987 Wall Street film showed how self-made multimillionaires could blossom overnight on the right tip-off or power play and come crashing down the next day... the playground of tycoons. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is Oliver Stone's first sequel and even more surprising is that they cut Trump's cameo... which means he either had a bad hair day or there were too many brand connections with The Apprentice? You've got to admit if Michael Douglas were taller, redder and richer... they'd basically be twins.
Catch the rest of the review and the trailer after the jump...
The same environment exists within Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and it couldn't have come at a better time with the financial unrest of the recession over the last few years. Michael Douglas reprises his role as Gordon Gekko, who has spent a good few years serving time in prison. He's come out a changed man, promoting his new book as an author who's been there and made the mistakes, yet still advocating preposterous delusions of chasing wealth like a drug. He's hooked on money... sacrificing relationships and working around-the-clock... always pushing for more.
His daughter, Winnie (Mulligan), is his only family, a young woman whose boyfriend's promising career as a trader on Wall Street is taking him places quickly. Jake (LaBeouf) and Winnie are aware of the allegations of Gordon's inside trading and want nothing to do with him at first. However, Jake values Gordon's ideology and believes in the greater good of the man - allowing him to become something of a mentor and father figure in the hopes of reuniting father and daughter. When it comes to their attention that Winnie's substantial trust fund could be the catalyst to skyrocket a worthy get rich quick green investment, things start to become unstable.
"No kid, inside trading is NOT selling watches from a coat."
Michael Douglas is fantastic as Gordon Gekko, slipping into the shark suit as if it were second nature. He has the go-getter attitude, the "never-say-die" approach and "won't take no for an answer" mindset that will see him rise to the surface at any personal cost. However, this is a supporting role in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps with Shia LaBeouf taking the lead. LaBeouf is softer than Charlie Sheen, playing a convincing character, despite looking about 10 years too young for the role. Carey Mulligan (An Education) also plays a supporting role as Winnie, who is actually difficult to recognise at first with her red hair. Rounding off the big four is Josh Brolin (No Country for Old Men), who delivers a similar performance to his role as Dan White in Milk. Other big name stars include Susan Sarandon, Frank Langella and the legendary 90-something, Eli Wallach, but their parts are fleeting.
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is an epic money game story from Oliver Stone, outclassing Boiler Room and August for cast and eclipsing them for scale. It's an entertaining story, weaving our young protagonist between business transactions, corporate heavyweights and through some interpersonal difficulties with his girlfriend and her father. It's all about the New York lifestyle, from charity benefits to motorbikes, from helicopters to tailor-made suits. Stone manages to pick up the story with the help of Gekko, even with a brief appearance by Charlie Sheen, who just underwrites LaBeouf's unsuitability for the part.
The rise-and-fall of an empire or powerful figure always makes a great story. The problem is when this fluctuation is a characteristic of the film itself. Stone has created the same Wall Street world, but Gekko is sidelined for the young blood, Shia LaBeouf. He's proved himself a strong actor, but it's just difficult to believe that he's old enough to be playing with the big boys. Computer hacker - yes, Wall Street trader - no. While this miscast lead shows his class with the ability to carry the film, it does soften the sharp corporate edge... making it a little toothless with no help from Carey Mulligan. This does make their characters seem out of their depth and like guppies instead of yuppies, and they wouldn't last a month on Wall Street.
"CHECK... MATE, MR. GEKKO! I now have your Queen."
It's a nice contrast against the wizened Gordon Gekko, whose weathered face and voice deliver experience... a true Wall Street veteran. Ironically, there are several mentions of cancer from Douglas himself, who recently admitted to having chemotherapy for throat cancer. The film seems to relish on bipolar opposites... rich, broke... beautiful, ugly... young, old... the list goes on. In the same breath, Stone has several subplots swirling around the central characters with enough story leads for another sequel. This makes Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps engaging at times, engrossing even, but somehow it just doesn't have the same bite as Wall Street.
Perhaps this has something to do with the character's motives and the attempt at some moral retribution. The ethics are bent and this is probably why the conclusion doesn't seem to fit in with the rest of the film. There's never re...