For more Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps follows the 1987 movie Wall Street, and the fact that it's been made is no surprise. The original Wall Street was a response to the 1987 stock market crash. Once the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 unfolded, with subprime mortgage lending, home foreclosures, collapse of financial giants, plummeting stocks, and massive unemployment occurring before our very eyes, I knew that director Oliver Stone would take the opportunity to make another movie about the corruption of Wall Street and its fat cats. Once it was released into theaters, I knew I had to see it.
I was amazed that 23 years between the two Wall Street films did not stifle Stone's moviemaking skills. I found this new Wall Street to be as entertaining and informative as the first. Even more impressive was the originality of the story. There's little in this new movie that resembles the first one. It's essentially an exploration of a whole new world of investing with new situations and characters. So if you're wondering about whether 2010 Wall Street repeats 1987 Wall Street, rest assured. It doesn't.
The first scene of Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps features Michael Douglas returning as the slick investor Gordon Gekko. After spending years in a federal prison for illegal trading practices, he is released back into the world with no one to go home to. Nevertheless, he manages to get back on his feet by publishing a new book called Is Greed Good?, a title based on his famous quote that greed is good. One place he promotes the book is on the business news channel CNBC in an interview with Maria Bartiromo.
The movie also introduces the other major character. Shia LaBeouf is Jacob Moore, a young but brilliant investor for a major firm called Keller Zabel Investments. He currently has a stake in an alternative energy company called United Fusion, believing that this investment could mean huge returns. Then something goes wrong. The stock price for Keller Zabel takes a huge dive, and Louis Zabel, the firm's leader played well by Frank Langella, is distraught by how his company, and the whole financial market as a whole, is spiraling downward.
Soon after, the movie introduces its villain: Josh Brolin as Bretton James, an investor for the rival firm Churchill Schwartz. It is this company that Jacob believes is responsible for stock manipulation that ultimately brought Keller Zabel to its knees. Furthermore, the United Fusion investment is in jeopardy. In order to set things right again, Jacob gets close to Bretton, becomes part of the Churchill Schwartz team, and attempts to make things go his way.
Before I forget, there's one more main character to mention. Carey Mulligan plays Winnie Gekko, Jacob's girlfriend and Gordon's daughter. For the first half of the movie, she simply stands by her man during his financial drama. Later on, it's clear that she represents the average American who may feel abandoned by those who care too much about money, whether it's Gordon or even Jacob. Plus, her occupation as a liberal blogger may eventually become useful, given that Wall Street has many juicy stories.
Basically, the whole movie, which is a little over two hours, presents several plot elements, including Gordon reforming himself, Jacob's alliance with Gordon, Jacob versus Bretton, and Gordon's relationship with Winnie, and not one feels unnecessary. I enjoyed the well written dialogue, drama, and character development accompanying each story. The movie, like its predecessor, is also an interesting fictionalization of real-life events with its inclusion of Wall Street buzzwords such as "bailout" and "too big to fail." If you're familiar with what happened to Lehman Brothers, Bear Sterns, and the like, it's hard not to make the connection between fact and fiction.
Perhaps the thing I liked the most were the performances by all of the cast members. Michael Douglas hasn't lost his tough as an actor, even as he plays a Gordon Gekko with a change of heart. Even more impressive is Shia LaBeouf. Thanks to his preparation for the role of Jacob Moore by spending time with Wall Street insiders and even doing stock trades himself, LaBeouf really fits his role. I think this is a good step for him towards working in serious drama films. Of course, let's not forget Josh Brolin and Carey Mulligan representing Americans at the top and the middle of the socioeconomic ladder, respectively. Hell, even the appearances of real-life CNBC personalities, including Maria Bartiromo, Melissa Lee, Becky Quick, and Jim Cramer, deserve mention for giving the film so much realism.
With that, I am giving Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps a highly positive rating. It has what every good movie should have: a solid story, a great cast, memorable dialogue, and momentum in its storytelling. I'm glad that Oliver Stone was given a chance to do this movie instead of letting someone else take the reign. Whether the characters are factual or fictional, Stone has a way of taking historical and current events and telling about them in a fascinating way. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is another great example of this.
Anthony's Rating: 9/10
(Review originally published at http://www.anthonysfilmreview.com/Film/W/Wall_Street_Money_Never_Sleeps.htm)