Rated: PG-13 Reviewed by: Jim Release date: September 24, 2010 Released by: Twentieth Century Fox
Oliver Stone's delayed, seamless sequel is a flawed, yet flashy fleshing out of the morality of money long after Greed is Good steered Wall Street from its charismatic corporate raider, Gordon Gekko.
The new pulsating, sometimes hypnotic picture, subtitled Money Never Sleeps includes a line that gets into its sleek infrastructure, "I never thought of money as a woman before...and now she's jealous."
Stone's entertaining topical tale mainly during the painful and key period which lead to the previous administration's bailout again stars Michael Douglas (going through a personal off-screen battle well-publicized) along with Shia LaBeouf, Carey Mulligan, and Josh Brolin.
The polish and panache is evident from the outset with noticeable intense immediacy into such a downtrodden economy, worse than the crash in October 1987 which brought an dark foreboding to the more compelling and adult-oriented original released not long thereafter.
In a post 9/11 world catastrophe came about through lavish trading of derivatives, credit swapping, along with subprime mortgage lending. Now, Douglas's jaded, more cautionary Gekko is out of federal prison from racketeering and insider trading charges with his own personal novel out, Is Greed Good? This outsider's emergence leads to relevance through his estranged daughter's fiance, LaBeouf's engagingly precocious energy specialist Jake Moore. Jake will learn the hard way of the very urbane and proud powerbroker and wheeler and dealer a self-centered Gekko once was and still is.
The unsteady instantaneous nature of a digital age is evident through the work of scribes Allan Loeb and Stephen Schiff even if it is undone by the austere aromas at the core of its institutional matters.
LaBeouf, like the earlier Charlie Sheen character, is the new hardworking idealizing young man, who, in this case, gets into plenty of personal and professional transactional power and deals. You see, he wants Gekko's estranged daughter and his paramour, liberal on-line author Winnie, done with some wounded grace by Mulligan (see An Education and good in Never Let Me Go) to renew their relationship. Jake's position in a leading Wall Street banking firm for alternate energy sources has lead to a close bond with corporate executive company man Louis Zabel (Frank Langella of The Box). But, the oncoming, unexpected collapse with the likes of Goldman Sacs profiting in many a downfall helps facilitate a passionate intersection of ambition, self-interest, and trust.
Yet, for Stone, whose dad was a stockbroker molded into the character played by Hal Holbrook, the entrepreneurial shrewdness and drama just isn't that deft and shrewd a generation later. Douglas, LaBeouf, and Mulligan ironically just don't get the screen time they deserve with all of the amorality and power running amuck. Brolin has his snaky moments as the corruptive star executive Bretton James after his interesting title character in Stone's more recent W.
If the conclusion of Money Never Sleeps becomes too fugacious or emotionally deficient, the director recognizes a good stretch of the time to sharply visualize what happens when it comes to the ideology and atmosphere of the desperate, mean and traumatic. It allows for some stellar, rich lensing from Rodrigo Prieto, nuanced production design from Kristi Zea to make the swank residences and offices, as well as trading havens more vibrant unfortunately than the actors (like the venerable Douglas) whose characters have a knack of being up to no good when it comes to fate and destiny.