Wall Street (1987) Poster

(1987)

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10/10
Wealth at the price of humanity, or humanity at the price of wealth?
Kill-Gore3 September 2001
Wall Street is about those for whom material wealth takes precedence over morality, and those for whom it does not. Moreover, it is the story of one who is struggling to decide which of the two he is: greedy or ethical.

Bud Fox is a young stock broker who only wishes to excel in life. His father, Carl, provides a strong moral foundation, prioritizing human life and well being over profit. Bud's mentor, Gordon Gekko, is a ruthless and legendary Wall Street player whose values couldn't conflict with those of Bud's father more perfectly. So caught in the middle is Bud, who pitches his father's airline to Gekko with the intentions of saving the company while everyone gets rich in the process. This business deal sets the stage for the conflict of interests Bud faces, and whether in the end it is his moral father or his greedy mentor he would most like to become.

Wall Street is impeccably directed and perfectly cast. Oliver Stone really captures all the elements necessary to the telling of this story, with all its moral, economic, and legal implications. Michael Douglas is almost frightening as the ghastly Gordon Gekko, a role for which he took home the Oscar for best actor. And the casting of Martin and Charlie Sheen as father and son lends authenticity to their numerous emotional exchanges. We see what seem to be genuine hurt, pride, and shame from the two of them together. John C. McGinley makes his customary appearance in yet another of Stone's movies as Bud's coworker, and as always he shines, contributing his unique personality to the film. The combined efforts of talented individuals in a powerful story of human strength and weakness makes Wall Street a must see movie.

I rate it 10/10.
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Oh That Wild and Crazy 1980s Yuppie Culture.
tfrizzell1 May 2004
Deceptively deep and complex picture from co-writer/director Oliver Stone paints a vivid portrait of 1980s over-excesses as the age of "Me, Me, Me" (otherwise known as the 1980s) is explored through the eyes of a young, eager and impatient stockbroker (Charlie Sheen) who moonlights as a liaison to a heartless, ruthless and crazily greedy mega-millionaire (Michael Douglas in a smashing Oscar-winning turn) who seemingly has his hands on most every aspect of big business. Naturally dilemmas occur in every direction for Sheen as the lifestyle he wants comes at a very heavy price (both literally and figuratively). A strained relationship with his father (real-life dad Martin Sheen) and a whirlwind fling with the superficial Daryl Hannah just leads to more and more cinematic fireworks. "Wall Street" is really the only film I can think of to deal seriously with its subject matter. Everyone of the age remembers the yuppie phase this nation had in the mid-1980s. Young urban professionals did their best to make as much as they could as fast as possible (sometimes through crooked and illegal means). The idea of retiring at 40 seemed like a good notion, but those same people with those thoughts are still working today (they never made their millions or they made their money and ended up going into a lifetime of debt because they spent their earnings quicker than they could make it). Ultimately the 1980s was good while it lasted, but good like that never lasts forever and that becomes painfully clear as Sheen's character becomes a warning to all those who think they can out-think and manipulate a strained economic system. Douglas is a complete revelation. I mean there is no doubt that he is an excellent performer, but his portrayal of a money- and power-mad player in New York is truly one of those instances of classic career work being achieved. Super-slick, wickedly intelligent and definitely a thinking person's movie, "Wall Street" continues to strike a chord when looking back at a very unique time of American economic history. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
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8/10
Casualties Of Capitalism
Bill Slocum18 September 2005
With his diabolical charm, slicked-back hair, city-college chip on his shoulder, and era-defining "greed-is-good" mantra, Gordon Gekko may by one of the all-time great film roles. Michael Douglas's performance as Gekko won a deserved Oscar in 1988 and makes "Wall Street" required viewing.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to money. Some economists argue money is an expanding resource, and prosperity a rising tide that lifts all boats. For Gekko, the truth is simpler and more brutal: The rich get richer off the backs of everyone else. "Money itself isn't lost or made, it's simply transferred," he tells his young protégé Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen).

No question writer-director Oliver Stone feels the same way, as he presents this tale of wealth acquisition at its very apex, lower Manhattan circa 1985. In practically every frame showcasing the opulent world Gekko travels can be glimpsed beggars, fishermen, window washers, people who never will have access to the white-collar lifestyles their lowly status perversely enables for others.

For some, this zero-sum take of America clouds their enjoyment of "Wall Street" the movie. It shouldn't. You don't have to buy Shakespeare's version of history in "Richard III" to enjoy the morally bankrupt character at its center, and you don't need to adopt Stone's philosophy to enjoy Gekko.

In fact Stone's attitude about the Street, presented here as a kind of Hogarth caricature, helps make the film so entertaining. He captures the scenes of floor trading and calls and puts in journalistic detail, but leaves room for the human equation. And he has fun, a lot of fun, especially with Gekko, a character who makes you laugh with his pithy comments even as he sets about using poor Fox as a human ashtray.

On an upcoming charity event for the Bronx Zoo: "That's the thing about WASPs. They hate people, but they love animals." On a rival: "If he was in the funeral business, no one would ever die!" To Fox: "You had what it took to get into my office, sport, the question is do you have what it takes to stay."

Fox wants to stay, and allows no SEC regulation to block his wayward path. Stone's father was a stockbroker, and so the director takes special care to show us that all Wall Streeters aren't bad. There's Hal Holbrook, almost too saintly and somewhat detached from day-to-day business of his brokerage house to the point he seems a slumming B-school don. John C. McGinley delivers a standout performance as a vulgar, greedy friend of Fox's who we nevertheless find ourselves sympathetic to, especially as Fox ditches him for Gekko.

But of course it's really Gekko's world, as we watch him at his desk, punching telephone-line buttons and encouraging subordinates to "rip their throats out," checking his blood pressure with one hand while smoking a cigarette in the other. His centerpiece moment, his speech to the stockholders at Teldar Paper, is a compelling soliloquy not because it showcases his brutality but because it allows him a chance to explain his philosophy in a way that sounds logical, even honorable, until you think through the implications. That's Stone's screen writing at its best.

Sheen is also masterful in his role, playing the naive waif who wants to swim with the sharks and thus giving Douglas daylight to run. Too bad there's a tacked-on romance that never really works, in part because the character of Darien Taylor is not well developed, in part because Darryl Hannah hadn't yet met Quentin Tarantino. The ending is a bit too neat, and loses the subtlety that makes the rest of the film so good.

But the heck with subtlety when you have Gordon Gekko. Douglas is the reason for watching "Wall Street," and a terrific one. Just watch the way he looks at Bud, eyebrows raised to hold a pregnant silence, or enjoys the discomfort of his arbitrager-rival Sir Larry (a solid Terence Stamp). Stone knew what he had here, and makes the most of it. As a twisted morality tale, "Wall Street" is a thrilling, scenic ride down a dark and dangerous road.
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9/10
Oliver Stone, Film maker.
Joseph P. Ulibas11 May 2005
Wall Street (1987) is one of the films that defines the 80's American Lifestyle. A dog eat dog society fueled by greed, materialistic possessions, excess and drugs. People preying on others, a world of unscrupulous inside trading and the rise of yuppies. Oliver Stone is one of those film makers who knew the 80's inside out. People say John Hughes defined the 80's but Mr. Stone showed it's true side and it was ugly.

The film follows a low level day trader (Charlie Sheen) who strives to become a very powerful figure on Wall Street like his idol Gordon Geckko (Michael Douglas). To justify his rise to power, he uses his father (Martin Sheen) knowledge of the flight industry for his own personnel gains. He wants to get his foot into the door of the oily Geckko. Will he sell his soul for a quick buck? How far and fast will this rising star soar? To find these answers check out Wall Street.

This film was made immediately after Platoon. Stone made it clear that he wasn't going to let an Oscar winning malaise effect him. He explores the two fathers theme that he used in Platton and once again makes it work. A highly underrated film that has sadly been neglected by the mainstream audience. What makes it even sadder is the fact that it still applies today.

Highly recommended.
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10/10
there are 2 roads, but only one bears Stone's intent
scrummy0120 June 2002
You can watch Wall Street and take it for face value. If you want to do that, all you have to do is watch Michael Douglas, probably the most underrated actor of the last 30 years, give his greed speech. You will be amazed at this man's talent for delivering a performance. You can watch Daryl Hannah give a flawless interpretation of the high priced trophy girlfriend/wife. And you can just feel the disappointment that your father showed you the first time you let him down when you watch Martin and Charlie Sheen deliver the hospital scene. The story is a classic. It is purely timeless. The setting is as grand as the money that they are playing with. The supporting cast is excellent (realtor, boss, traders, etc.) This film is everything a casual movie fan needs to sit for 2 hours and be entertained. However, if you want to look deeper into the film you will appreciate the true intent of Mr. Stone's effort. Don't get too caught up in the façade of tall buildings, trading stock and corporate tycoons. Wall Street is not necessarily all that it seems. Rather, it is consistent with Mr. Stone's clever work in the past. It seems that to a creative genius like Stone, it is not enough to make the typical story of the kid hits it big and suddenly crashes back to earth (see secret of my success, cocktail, top gun, etc.) The intent of the picture may be completely different from the actual medium chosen. Stone drops clues throughout the film. It's the dawn of a new age, 1987. The journey from the old economy i.e. the airline industry and paper industry to the age of information. The sun is rising in the east as shown in the beach scene. A quote from Stone's character Gekko `damn I wish you could see this' is the perfect hint of what Mr. Stone is trying to say. Oliver Stone sees the future, it is a future economy based on information being the most powerful resource in the world. The eastern philosophy, the greed, the self-destruction of smoking and working out. All these things brought Gekko down. Gekko was brought down by what? A man with a micro tape recorder. A man armed with the medium of the new economy, electronic media. He was nailed by a person whom he trained to `get information' Well, he got the information and Gekko was brought down by the fact that he was short sighted to it. Great movie and excellent foresight by Mr. Stone as always. I suggest you watch it again. But, this time I suggest that you look for the real intent of the film. In my opinion, this is quite simply one of the best films of all time. Not only because of its timeliness, amazing foresight (see stock market crash in October 87, and the rise of silicon valley and Microsoft in late 80's) and one of the best performances by an actor period in Michael Douglas' portrayal of Gordon Gekko.
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7/10
High Quality Film, Disturbing Message
Lechuguilla13 August 2003
Michael Douglas deservedly won an Oscar for his portrayal of the ruthless, chain-smoking capitalist guru, Gordon Gekko, who leads Charlie Sheen's Bud Fox down the garden path to Wall Street's hidden abyss. Good supporting cast includes Sean Young, James Spader, reliable Hal Holbrook, and the wonderful Sylvia Miles. Tight direction, perceptive script with realistic techno-lingo, fabulous production design, dazzling cinematography of the Manhattan skyline, and hip 80's music rev up the technical quality of this Oliver Stone "message" film. If only the message had been more reassuring.

Gekko is a villain and an outlaw, but mostly he comes across to viewers as a worldly tough guy, a charming bully with a glamorous lifestyle. We see his high-class mega-office, his plush home and chic wife, his expensive paintings, his rapid-fire commands to his robotic lieutenants, his snazzy clothes and "in vogue" friends. Here and there we see his frustrations, but that only accentuates his toughness. We do not see him suffer, nor do we see the consequences of his selfish, Machiavellian behavior.

As a result, to viewers, especially to those youthful, bright, materialistic Americans with a smug, "can do" attitude, and disdain for ethics, Gekko is, unfortunately, someone to admire, a Wall Street role model.
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This is Douglas's movie until the Sheens take it over.
Clive-Silas9 January 2004
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 line.

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 are.

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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7/10
Taut, sharply written thriller
MovieLuvaMatt10 July 2003
I mainly purchased the DVD, because of two reasons: Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen. I'm quite an admirer of both actors. I have virtually no knowledge about the stock market, or about stocks themselves. Those who are in the market or have vast knowledge about stocks will probably enjoy the film much more. However, I still enjoyed the film. When a movie's really good, it doesn't matter whether or not the audience member is interested in the topic. Besides, the film boils down to basic universal themes, like selling your soul to the devil and money being the root of all evil.

The characters are interesting and richly developed, with the exception of Darryl Hannah's underwritten character. I can see why she didn't like playing that role. Douglas is always a joy to watch, and makes a suave yet slimy villain. I wouldn't necessarily say he deserved an Oscar, but he did a fine job nonetheless. So did Charlie Sheen, who is actually the star of the film despite the fact that most people remember "Wall Street" for Douglas as Gordon Gecko. Sheen gives a fine multi-dimensional performance. I love the scenes between him and his father Martin Sheen, who plays his father in the film. Oliver Stone made a great choice casting the father-and-son team, since the tension in their scenes feels very authentic.

There are some predictable plot turns and character arcs, but altogether Stone keeps the excitement going. I like how the climactic scene between Douglas and Sheen is shot without cuts, with the camera moving from person to person, keeping the tension going. If I knew at least an inkling about the stock market, I wouldn't be completely lost during certain scenes, but what can you do? I still think it's a fine film with solid performances.

My score: 7 (out of 10)
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9/10
Entertaining and still relevant
secordman21 May 2001
Wall Street could have fit in very nicely in the theatres today. The bull market of the late 80's can be compared to the insane dot.com market of the late 90's, the same mistakes made on Wall Street repeated themselves again. Hal Holbrook's character is the voice of reason in Wall Street, telling Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) to stick to the basics, and not get carried away with going for the easy buck. Fox is entranced by dynamo Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), whose specialty is taking over and "wrecking" companies, "because they're wreckable". Gekko takes Fox in as his protege, teaching him the ropes and showing him the realities of greed. Fox becomes corrupted, and despite the sobering influence of his union man dad (Martin Sheen) gets ensnared in Gekko's web. Great performances all around, Douglas was deserving of the Oscar, Charlie Sheen was very good in his role as well. There are terrific supporting roles in this movie; Martin Sheen, Holbrook, Terence Stamp and Oliver Stone's favourite character actor, John C. McGinley. For all of Stone's later failed movies, Wall Street hits the nail on the head, and above all entertains the audience. It's hard to see how the same man directed trash like Natural Born Killers afterwards.
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6/10
It doesn't matter if greed is good, the movie is not.
secondtake1 March 2010
Wall Street (1987)

I finally got to watch Wall Street after hearing many friends mention it, and a few really praise it. So with expectations a little bit primed, I was underwhelmed by the opening minutes, and then further discouraged as it went, until by the end I was bored. Maybe the sweeping notion of a Wall Street made of day traders and pyramid schemers and run-of-the-mill corrupt young white collar criminals is old hat. Maybe this had meaning in the Reagan years when greed really did seem to be waved like a flag.

But maybe it's not such an amazing movie. It is filmed like a good, night time television series, though with a longer pulse to it (no commercials, oddly enough, given the theme). But it is brightly lit and functionally photographed. The acting is all over the place, but the lead, the younger Sheen, is just plain dull. His character, Bud Fox, is meant to be a hard driven risk-taker, conniving to see the top trader in town and wanting to succeed behind his little computer, but he's kind of an everyman instead, probably so we might sympathize with him. Just from his lack of energy, he drags the movie down.

Michael Douglas, however, pulls it up. He's his usual brash, sharp-voiced, arrogant, rich man (he seems to play parts that require expensive suits). Unlike his father, he doesn't do humble well, but his part as Gordon Gekko requires mostly hubris. And greed. The famous "Greed is Good" speech never actually has him say that--and if you find it and listen just to that moment in the movie, you might get a flavor for the whole thing, because he hesitates on just how to word it. The movie, as a whole, though never pausing in the kinetic sense, is one big hesitation. It lacks depth, and it lacks any reason that we should be compassionate.

Yes, the older Sheen shines (ouch, that was unintentional--Martin plays the father of the Charlie main character). The supporting cast is fair to middling. And the direction, whatever you think of Oliver Stone, is solid but uninspired. It is really the idea that drives the whole enterprise, and the idea is a linear, and predictable, one.
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