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"Greed Isn't Always Good!"

Author: gwnightscream from United States
14 May 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Michael Douglas, Charlie Sheen, Martin Sheen and Daryl Hannah star in Oliver Stone's 1987 drama. This takes place in 1985, where we meet Bud Fox (Sheen), an ambitious, Wall Street trader who dreams of working with wealthy, corporate tycoon, Gordon Gekko (Douglas). Soon, Bud meets Gordon and Gordon decides to take him under his wing. Bud starts to rise making money by getting illegal, inside trading info for Gordon and falls into his world of greed learning the consequences. Charlie's dad, Martin plays his on-screen dad, Carl who's an airline employee. Hannah plays Darien Taylor, an old flame of Gordon's who gets involved with Bud. Terence Stamp, Hal Holbrook, James Karen, Sean Young, John C. McGinley, James Spader and Stone himself also appear. This 80's classic is definitely one of Stone, Douglas & Sheen's best I recommend.

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Author: Dave Tedel from N. Calif.
6 May 2012

I seem to always hear how "accurate" and "realistic" this movie is in regard to the late 1980s and the finance sector, typically from people who've never looked at the business section of their local paper once. That shouldn't determine how entertaining the film is, and doesn't (if you put it on in the background while doing something else). I'd seen it twice before and after catching a cable TV showing a decade later was surprised at the creaky screenplay and acting. Michael Douglas's entire performance is good enough for his own highlight reel but everyone else in it just left me groaning, even Charlie Sheen's dad as the blue-collar old-fashioned salt-of-the-earth stock character. Rather than a piercing glimpse into the world of the high rollers the supposedly brilliant writing here unfolds more like a dumbed-down adaptation Liars' Poker sans the humor. Sample genius: beginning with "1985" flashed importantly across the screen, a few minutes before John C. McGinley sarcastically comments on the Challenger disaster (then again, this is Oliver Stone, who very well may believe that random bond traders in Manhattan all possessed early inside information about faulty O-rings).

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Paul Krugman's favorite movie?

Author: dimplet from United States
7 February 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What struck me about Wall Street is how you get swept up in the emotion Bud Fox experiences, the lows and highs, and how you get carried along for the ride. You can empathize with him, and understand how he could make these decisions. Heck, you almost want to go out and get a job on Wall Street.

Oddly enough, you can also empathize with Gordon Gekko, and even find his talk about greed makes some sense. The trouble is, even that is a smoke screen for what he is really doing, when you face reality, as Bud eventually does. But it is Oliver Stone's credit that he doesn't over simplify too much, or over-demonize. The important thing is that they come across as people, this depiction of corporate raiders, and not some caricature of evil or the devil.

But what kind of people do these things, destroying companies and people's lives for the sake of personal gain? What are they really like? The ones I've seen are manipulators who put on a face and tell you one thing while planning to do the opposite, who are cold at heart, and seem to create only the illusion of emotion. In other words, they are sociopaths. In that sense, the Gekko character is actually almost too human.

I decided to finally watch Wall Street after reading Paul Krugman's repeated references to the film in his New York Times columns. I'm not a fan of Oliver Stone, and thought he went too far into the realm of conspiratorial imagination in Nixon. Here, he is portraying a real type of conspiracy that is probably going on all the time. The trouble is it is conducted too obviously; there is not enough subtlety and deception involved. But that's OK. It's a two hour movie -- not a John le Carré novel -- and you get the idea. And besides (spoiler alert) I don't think I am revealing anything the viewer doesn't anticipate from the beginning, it's got to be clumsy enough for them to get caught.

It's not every day you see a film that is as true today as the day it was made, yet with Wall Street it is more so. The criminal securities insanity that led up to the 2008 crash was the result of people with far less integrity than even Gordon Gekko. Gekko only destroyed firms he bought, while these people almost destroyed the entire world economy, and seriously crippled the American economy, with all the callous greed of a crooked card game.

Oliver Stone may have simplified the details in the name of artistic license, but in Wall Street he produced a masterpiece that provides a portrait of what is wrong with our era. When people in the future puzzle over how things could go so wrong, they should watch Wall Street.

I am tempted to suggest that Stone balance this with a film about what is right, about, say, NGOs or non-profits. But I'm afraid you could do a movie about some of these and show a greed that is even more incomprehensible, a greed only Charles Dickens understood and could still make entertaining.

The greed is good ethos seems to be pervading so much of American life that many people, like Gekko, don't even feel a need to apologize, even while they are stealing the bread out of others' mouths. The problem isn't simply greed, it is dishonest, cheating greed. Why everyday people hold people of this sort who are rich in high regard is a mystery to me. Yet people like Bud Fox aspire to be like them.

There was a fellow who was a wholesale bootlegger, stock swindler and gentleman with ties to the Mafia, yet he was made U.S. ambassador to Britain, and was treated with such great respect that his son was elected President. Go figure. It takes more than SEC investigations to stop this sort of thing, it takes a change in values.

Aside from all that, Wall Street is an enjoyable movie to watch.

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"Nothing ruins my day more than losses."

Author: classicsoncall from Florida, New York
14 January 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I do these reviews not only because I like to research and write about a film in question, but also because they serve as somewhat of a diary of sorts reflecting my thoughts and what I'm doing at a particular point in time. I never saw this movie when if came out in 1987, in fact, today was the first time I've seen it. I chose to watch it precisely because it plays into the class warfare theme of the current presidential campaign, with both sides, Democrat and Republican playing fast and loose with a brand of populism they hope to earn victory with. One side plays into the whole one percent versus the ninety nine business a la Occupy Wall Street, while the other side stands defensive over the right of free markets and insisting the word 'profit' is not a dirty word. There's a certain hypocrisy with a liberal film maker like Oliver Stone (and Michael Moore) railing against money and greed, while taking their check to the bank for a product that the market (that would be you and me folks) either wants, needs or desires.

I guess you can make your own judgment call about the film. I found it pretty interesting myself, fully expecting that one way or another, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) would eventually get his comeuppance for steering protégé Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) into the depths of financial hell. In that respect, the film is actually quite predictable, so the better thing to do is sit back and enjoy the performances. Douglas is superb of course, exuding that 'have it all at any cost' mentality that defines the character of Gordon Gekko. You know, I get a chuckle out of that name every time I hear it because I picture that little lizard over at the Geico commercials, not a bad little capitalist himself if I do say so.

So you fast forward a couple of decades and try picturing Charlie Sheen in the Gekko role. Just perfect, don't you think - Winning! It's too bad his learning curve spiraled in the wrong direction, taking all that fame and money and investing it in a self imploding career. I don't know when he'll surface again but it should be interesting.

Though the movie is still relevant today, I did get a kick out of a really dated scene from the picture with Michael Douglas on the beach using that huge cordless phone a la Jerry Seinfeld in his TV series. The trivia notes here state that it was the first time a cell phone was ever shown in a feature film, so that's a bit of info you can amaze your friends with. The other thing about the picture is the tag line quote that everyone knows and often quotes. Condensed to convey the idea that 'Greed... is good', it's probably the second most quoted line from a film that was never uttered, right after 'Play it again, Sam'.

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Allusions to US

Author: coreymoquin from United States
17 November 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Oliver Stone's Wall Street is a perfect representation of how the rise of capitalism has completely shifted the culture and mindset of the United States and most of the modern world. The film poses two sides against each other and puts the audience in the same shoes as the protagonist. Charlie Sheen's character, Bud Fox, goes through multiple transformations throughout the film and it really makes the viewer question where they stand in today's economic climate.

The economy in the 1980s was overall very good, right before the recession of the 1990s. Also, the United States transformation to becoming a fully capitalistic society was pretty much complete. Most of the American public during this time was unaware of what was going one with the economy.

Oliver Stone films pretty much always have a deep meaning to them. Usually he alludes to how society functions in different eras. Stone's film Platoon is a good example of this. He showed a true representation of the Vietnam War, something that filmmakers rarely attempted. He showed how horrific and political the war was by showing how different races and people were treated. Wall Street also has these elements imbedded in the film.

Wall Street presents two sides that face off against each other; capitalism and morality. Gordon Gekko represents capitalism. Gekko is a leech that feeds off of other people's success as a stockbroker. Gekko is greedy and has no morals; he will do anything just to gain more money. A good example of this is when he intentionally tries to destroy Martin Sheen's airline company. He could easily build the company up and make enough money, but he decides to diversify the shares so he can make an exorbitant amount of money. Then there is morality. Martin Sheen's character represents this side; the honest blue collar workers of middle class America. This side is the complete opposite of the capitalistic side. They aren't greedy and have values. There is a scene where Martin Sheen's character says he believes in creating something rather than leeching off other people's success. This bit of dialogue really encapsulates how his side believes how America should function. Wall Street is a film that was made in the 80's this belief still resonates strong over 20 years later.

The middle ground between the two sides is Charlie Sheen's character, Buddy Fox. Oliver Stone probably wanted the viewer to be in the shoes of this character so they could come to some sort of a realization. Fox is pitted between these two sides and it is up to him to decide which side to choose. He goes through multiple transformations throughout the film. In the beginning he is idealistic and just wants to be a rich; to achieve the "American Dream". Eventually under the tutelage of Gekko he becomes callous and greedy. After Gekko attempts to destroy the company Fox has a realization of how immoral capitalism can be. He then goes to his father's side. The Fox character has some strong allusions to the American economy. In a way the American economy has gone through the same transformation; starting from idealistic roots and slowly becoming greedy and capitalistic.

Perhaps Oliver Stone is providing hope with Buddy Fox's last transformation into a moral character. Stone might be conveying that if Fox can change his ways than maybe America can as well. Despite Stone having a good message it seems it has fallen on closed eyes because the country has become even more capitalistic.

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Greed (and This Film) is Good.

Author: Brian Hadsell from Illinois
30 September 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) is a peon stockbroker whose ambition vastly outstrips his ability. For the last fifty-nine days, he's called the office of Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) - an infamous, unscrupulous corporate raider - for his shot at the big time, never getting past Gekko's secretary. But now, armed with inside information about Blue Star airlines - a company which his father (Martin Sheen) is a union representative - he gets his shot. Bud, now consumed with wealth and fast-tracked success, must decide between doing what's profitable and doing what's right.

"Wall Street" is much a film for the 80's as it is for today. The "greed is good" mentality, while it certainly has its merits, is twisted by Gekko into a doctrine of immoral excess, where money is paid for by the livelihoods of the working man. Gekko, the Devil in a tailored suit, proves that he's willing to do anything for a profit long after money has become anything other than a scoreboard.

While there are a number of incredibly well-executed performances to speak of (Sheen and Sheen being the ones to come to mind), Michael Douglas gives us one of the decade's best. Seamlessly sliding into Gekko's skin, Douglas breathes realism into the coldly calculating and darkly charismatic character. He doesn't merely seduce Bud with his mean and hungry look (to borrow from Shakespeare), but the entire audience as well: all of us swept up in his charm and obvious grandeur. Gekko possesses his office with a commanding presence, like a retro Zeus in his temple on Wall Street.

While enough can't be said for Stone's exceptional direction, it's his and Wesier's brilliant screenplay which completely steals the show. Particularly in the "Greed is Good" speech, they capture the Darwinian nature of economics and the a-moral (if not outright immoral) philosophy that defined the eighties (and every decade since). One merely has to look to Wall Street today to see the film's timelessness: the 2007 housing crisis (which has yet to be satisfactorily resolved, if the Wall Street occupation is any indication) and the Enron scandal are merely the largest and most recent examples.

This is a film that every American, without exception, should watch. While it may only truly appeal to lovers of Drama and finance, it is far too relevant to today's economic crises and of far too excellent a quality to go unseen.

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Greed is no longer for the amateurs

Author: Kristine ( from Chicago, Illinois
31 July 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In the 1980's if there was a defining movie of the generation, I would say that Wall Street is up there. Corporate America was being fully created and it's interesting to see that bit of history before what the economy is today. But in the 80's it was all about being a player and becoming a huge success. Wall Street truly captures the time and is one of Michael Douglas's defining roles as the villainess Gordon Gekko. I saw a clip of Wall Street in my film class a few years ago and for some reason even though it seemed interesting to me, I never got to see it. Thankfully I found Wall Street in my mom's DVD collection and watched it today. It's interesting to see a film like this where you see the original idea developed before a bunch of later movies ripped off the "rise and fall" plot. Wall Street is a powerful movie that shows you the rise of the wealthy and how they still look down on the honest hard working people, so quick to make a quick buck no matter who they hurt.

Bud Fox, a junior stockbroker, is desperate to get to the top. He wants to become involved with his hero, Gordon Gekko, a ruthless and legendary Wall Street player, whose values could not conflict more with those of Bud's father Carl, a blue-collar airline maintenance and union president. Bud visits Gekko on his birthday and, granted a brief interview, pitches him stocks, but Gekko is unimpressed. Realizing that Gekko may not do business with him, a desperate Bud provides him some inside information about Bluestar Airlines, which Bud learned in a casual conversation from his father. A dejected Bud returns to his office where Gekko places an order for Bluestar stock, becoming one of Bud's clients. But Bud learns that there might be more to greed than he expected.

Michael Douglas delivers a powerful performance as Gekko, the way he plays Fox and uses him was just brutal. Everyone wants to be rich, everyone wants to be successful, but at what cost? Gekko is the ultimate example of someone who will not only buy and sell you, but step over your body to get the cash. His speech of greed was so on key and powerful that I could understand why the people were so quick to go to his side of things. Greed is good, maybe in some ways that's true, it just depends on what you do to succeed. Charlie Sheen pulls in a good performance as well bouncing off of Douglas and you truly feel for his character because we have all been in his shoes. At the glimmer of a rich future, it sounds good to be bad, but when he realizes that he's hurting his own father and business, maybe it's not worth it, he's just Bud Fox.

Wall Street is a great movie that was ahead of it's time and still remains a powerful movie to this day. The ultimate betrayals and to show that you can't trust anyone in the business world still holds. Oliver Stone really captured the excitement and downfalls of Wall Street perfectly; you can tell that New York is his city. Wall Street defines the 1980's very well when it was the rise of the get rich quick schemes. I highly recommend this movie; greed is now made for everyone.


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Exciting cynicism

Author: Terrell Howell (KnightsofNi11) from United States
29 July 2011

Cynicism runs rampant in Oliver Stone's classic film about greed and deceit, Wall Street. Charlie Sheen stars as Bud Fox, a lowly stock broker who avidly seeks out advice from corrupt financial aficionado Gordon Gekko, played by Michael Douglas. Gekko takes Fox under his wing and shows him all the ropes in illegal business practice as the two trade on inside information in order to get to the top. It is a film filled with snappy dialogue and fancy word play that, at times, can be difficult to keep up with but not a single line goes to waste as the film moves along at a brisk and exciting pace.

It is impressive how Wall Street never gets boring or dull. Here we have a film about the stock market that is brimming with all the fancy lingo of the trade and strongly focuses on the complex inner workings of the market. But the story is presented in an exciting and gripping fashion that draws in the audience whether we understand how the stock market works or not. The film keeps itself moving with important elements that drive the story, except for a fairly useless romantic subplot between Fox and Darien Taylor, a friend of Gekko's played by Daryl Hannah. Other than this the events in Wall Street keep a consistently exciting pace that moves the story along and makes it into something more than just a boring description of how Wall Street works.

There is something quite frightening about this film, however. Wall Street highlights the greed and corruption that runs rampant in the market and this film was made in 1987. The film's cynical view on the world of the stock market hasn't been righted since the films release. Corruption has only grown, further verifying the film's message to the world. The stock traders of today have taken Gekko's words to heart, dwelling on the idea that "Greed is good." Sadly, Wall Street's relevance will probably never expire as long as their is a stock market. Corruption will never be put to rest and this film knows it, leaving us with an open ending that hardly solves any problems presented in the film. It's a dark view of the world that is only fueled by the grim truth.

Wall Street is an incredibly memorable film and will certainly be hailed as one of great 80's classics for decades to come. It isn't a perfect film, but it is relevant and it is important. This is an exciting film that presents the methods of Wall Street in a presentable fashion that we can comprehend and enjoy. It makes the stock market less of a mystery to the common person, but at the price of unveiling the rampant corruption within the market. The film is as exciting as cynicism gets and it is a must see, if only for its relevance and importance to the modern world.

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So, so

Author: clipmaker from United States
16 July 2011

When we want to understand a character in a movie we look at his entourage, and what we see in this movie is practically to much effort put into that and not much left for the character himself. And in a movie we watch what's happening in the moment and we don't follow a narrative story for too long. Otherwise it is like a surrogate, an artificial combination of scenes that could have been better connected to one another no matter how good was the actor's performance, and we still cannot understand what we are watching. Also, to comment on a particular scene, there is no such a thing to see someone walking out from a business meeting throwing words, and blaming a guy who he just met. Nobody does that nowadays, and that guy happened to be his son's boss. Come on! So, many scenes are like wrong from the start and the tension that is build up in the movie doesn't look a bit real to make it believable at all. By the way, the works of arts displayed on this movie no matter what the price tag says about their values are indeed in discrepancy with what most of us see now fashionable. Back to 80s? No way!

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Entertaining, but lightweight

Author: paul2001sw-1 ( from Saffron Walden, UK
22 June 2011

Oliver Stone made 'Wall Street' in 1987 against a backdrop of mounting concern about the influence of an aggressively self-interested financial sector on wider society; in many ways, it seems that nothing has changed. The film is a parable about insider trading and the activity of speculators, vaguely plausible but clumsily acted and the strokes are painted with a broad brush. That it's not more precise in its representation of the workings of the markets can perhaps be forgiven; less so, its imprecision in language. For all the celebrated lines (mostly obviously, when Gordon Gekko, the character played by Michael Douglas, declares "Greed is good"), I couldn't help but wonder what a truly talented scriptwriter, a playwright like David Hare or David Mamet, could have done with this material. The 80s haircuts are predictably hilarious, and Charlie Sheen's protagonist far from likable; the sting that traps Gekko feels particularly flimsily sketched, although the story doesn't shy away from ending on a hard note. Stone is never the subtlest of film makers; a film about the more recent generation of quantitative analysts, who have partly supplanted the likes of Gekko (but with equally disastrous effects), might have been more to my taste for movies with a cooler tone.

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