Rated: R for language throughout. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: July 29, 2016 Released by: Sony Pictures Classics
Intrigue in Wall Street corruption with themes of duplicity and betrayal gradually enervates in Meera Menon's slick new financial drama.
What is distinctive is the distaff vantage point in raising the glass ceiling for the second millennial decade in terms of the flawed, struggling, even desperate main characters as played by Anna Gunn (best known for her small-screen roles in Breaking Bad as well as Criminal Minds, even its more current spin-off) leading the pack.
Gunn's crackerjack investment banker Naomi Bishop has had a major hiccup of late but looks to rebound through a deal with an IPO of incorporated business Cachet. Sarah Megan Thomas's Erin is Naomi's aspiring protégé trying to balance family and career and Alysia Reiner (That Awkward Moment) is Naomi's old prosecutor friend Samantha looking into the details of the transaction.
All the while Amy Fox's presumptively deceptive but ultimately inefficient screenplay ties in Naomi's beau Michael Connor (James Purefoy of John Carter) who may be involved in manipulative hedge fund and insider-trading scamming. Gunn does her best to make Naomi the most interesting performer, which she is, notably in a female version of Gordon Gekko in the early sections.
Yet, the persuasion and milieu of her character in a tale with little subtlety or subtext loses substance. While Thomas and Reiner can't compete or complement her much at all in subordinating strands which manifests what needed more focus and narrative polish, even in a cutthroat, misogynistic world. At least something closer to Margin Call or the more recent applauded and critical darling The Big Short which had a solid male ensemble led by Christian Bale (The Dark Knight Rises, Out of the Furnace), Steve Carell (Café Society), and Ryan Gosling (The Nice Guys).
Menon and Fox can't make anything inspired as Equity unfolds in prosaic fashion which leaves Gunn out of a potential vibrant range captured as a wounded wife, mother and businesswoman Skyler White. Balance and proprietorship are really in short supply here which renders an unworthy or memorable cinematic venture.