At least it wasn’t saddled with a “2” after its name, but this sequel to Oliver Stone’s hit Wall Street seems both timely and superfluous. It does feature some good performances from the elder statesmen, but the love story with the young cast doesn’t catch fire enough to interest.
The excess also seems to grate in these hard times as well.
Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) is released from prison in 2001 after an eight year sentence for his insider trading and securities fraud. No one is there to meet him and he’s left with little.
Cut forward seven years, Gekko’s estranged daughter Winnie (Carey Mulligan) is dating Jake Moore (Shia LaBeouf) who works at Keller Zabel Investments under the mentorship of owner Louis Zabel (Frank Langella). Things are going well for Jake until Keller Zabel crashes.
Zabel goes to the Federal Reserve Bank to try and save his firm, but Churchill Swartz CEO Bretton James (Josh Brolin) wants revenge on Zabel for past slights and doesn’t give in inch on a proposed buyout.
Zabel was disillusioned with the financial markets to begin with, but this final slight pushes him over the edge and in front of a train. Jake is smarting from the loss of his father figure and crash of his firm and goes to see Gordon Gekko give a lecture at a college to promote his new book, Greed is Good.
He wants Gekko to find out who was behind Keller Zabel’s crash and Zabel’s death as well as get his revenge upon them. However, Gordon wants Jake to help him reconcile with his daughter or does he have more sinister motives?
The financial meltdown of 2008, we’re still feeling the effects, is certainly disaster film worthy and the main character of the original Wall Street certainly seem a good fit for an update of that same street. However, the results fail to catch fire in the way the original film did.
Michael Douglas certainly brings an elder statesman vibe to Gekko and it’s interesting to see what became of the character. He’s still compelling in his signature role and other cast members bring interest to their characters (Langella), but the film falters with its younger cast members.
LaBeouf and Mulligan just don’t carry much interest and we’re always waiting for Douglas to reemerge. Even an appearance by a not-so-well looking Charlie Sheen doesn’t carry the closure or excitement that it should.
The film still deals with excesses and many of them won’t set well. Such as when Brolin’s character talks about his firm losing $125 million and declares it not a lot of money. Also many of the background faces have a sideshow “one too many facelifts” quality that I thought that Stone was trying to say something silently.
The film is melodramatic, has some interest, but it really failed to get me involved. I just stuck around because of Douglas, but the character gets a “happy ending” that feels very contrived.
Money Never Sleeps is presented in a 1080p high definition transfer (2.35:1). Special features are in high definition, unless noted. Director Oliver Stone provides a commentary; he also joins Douglas, LaBeouf, Mulligan, and Brolin in a 15 minute roundtable discussion about the film.
The 50 minute “Money, Money, Money” talks about the previous film and the new one in a series of featurettes. There are also 30 minutes of deleted scenes, 25 minutes of “In Character With…” (Douglas, LaBeouf, Mulligan, Brolin, and Langella) shows from the Fox Movie Channel (all in standard definition), 4 minutes of trailers, and previews for other Fox products. Disc two is a digital copy.
Money Never Sleeps never fully wakes up. It certainly won’t have the street cred that Wall Street has. It falls well short of that first film and cannot be said to represent the era that it details.
Douglas shines when on the screen, but he’s only a secondary character and when he leaves the interest leaves with him.
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