A young and impatient stockbroker is willing to do anything to get to the top, including trading on illegal inside information taken through a ruthless and greedy corporate raider who takes the youth under his wing.
Now out of prison but still disgraced by his peers, Gordon Gekko works his future son-in-law, an idealistic stock broker, when he sees an opportunity to take down a Wall Street enemy and rebuild his empire.
On the Wall Street of the 1980s, Bud Fox is a stockbroker full of ambition, doing whatever he can to make his way to the top. Admiring the power of the unsparing corporate raider Gordon Gekko, Fox entices Gekko into mentoring him by providing insider trading. As Fox becomes embroiled in greed and underhanded schemes, his decisions eventually threaten the livelihood of his scrupulous father. Faced with this dilemma, Fox questions his loyalties. Written by
This is Douglas's movie until the Sheens take it over.
First of all, it's amazing now to see how young, baby-faced and gauche
Charlie Sheen looks from this distance in time, particularly when he's
trying to hit on Daryl Hannah.
In today's dumbed down movie world, Gordon Gekko could have been scripted
and played exactly the same except for one thing: you'd never see the scene
when he suddenly stops to admire the ocean at dawn. Fortunately Michael
Douglas clearly added his own dimensions to the character whom, if left to
Stone, would have been a cardboard money-grabber. As far as Stone is
concerned Gekko wants money for its own sake, but Michael Douglas manages to
evince a man who revels in the power and influence that money gets him.
Stone's dialogue actually undercuts this perception on occasion, as when Bud
Fox yells at Gekko, "How many yachts can you sail!?", and when Gekko,
enticing Fox by outlining how rich he could be, says, "Rich enough to have
your own jet" - as if owning a jet wasn't the minimum accoutrement you'd
expect from the least successful company director or minor pop star. Other
infelicities in the script include the moment when Stone wanted to signal
that Bud Fox has reached the peak of success and found it empty: following
the montage of the condo purchase and decoration, the perfect meal for two,
culminating in making love to Daryl Hannah, Stone has Fox standing on his
balcony, and apropos of nothing at all, he just says, "Who am I?" It has to
be said that Sheen wasn't really up to the task of delivering this atrocious
I've rarely seen a film in which the female lead was so comprehensively
abandoned by the director. Stone clearly wanted to focus all his attention
on Sheen and crucially on Douglas, leaving Hannah floundering and unable to
clearly express just how much into Bud Fox her character is at any one time.
At the final break-up you almost hear Stone's sigh of relief at being able
to get rid of the irrelevant female (probably forced on him by the studio)
and concentrate on the man's world of stockbroking.
I seem to be finding a lot of flaws in what is basically a most compelling
and watchable film. Despite the complex jargon-riddled technicalities of the
subject matter, the movie's plot grabs hold of the viewer from the first
scene and never lets go. Of course Douglas dominates most of the movie,
until Fox sr. (Sheen sr.) throws the spanner in the works of his son's
airline deal. Thank heavens Charlie Sheen took the unbelievably courageous
decision to have his own father (instead of Jack Lemmon) play his
character's father because the two of them perform an absolute barnstormer
of a scene in which every word, inflexion and facial expression is repleat
with absolute truth; and it's all the more poignant considering Charlie
Sheen's own personal difficulties which faced him in later years, and the
well-publicised ups and downs of his relationship with Martin as a result.
Had those troubled times preceded this movie, it's hard to imagine the
performances could have been any different - that's how good they
Fantastic character support comes from Hal Holbrook, the always reliable
Saul Rubinek and John C. McGinley (who does not seem to have changed at all
in the intervening years!), a young James Spader and the magisterial Terence
Stamp who understands the unutterable menace with which it is possible to
lace the single word "Mate".
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