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Ambitious, wide-boy Nick Leeson is determined to rise in the world and be more than a simple bank clerk. When his employers, Barings Bank, offer him the opportunity to go to Jakarta to sort out a problem that nobody else wants, he seizes the opportunity with both hands. In Jakarta he meets and marries Lisa and together they go to Singapore when the bank offers him the job of setting up their future options trading operation. To save money the bank allows Nick to operate both the floor trading and the back office facilities and force him to employ cheap, unskilled staff. His first year of trading is a big success and he makes large profits for the bank even though he has illegally broken trading rules and secretly covered up losses. Given more freedom, even more money and continuing unchecked, Nick starts to make losses and again attempts to trade out of them but this time he comes unstuck as his illegal trading generates even bigger losses. After the death of his unborn child Nick ... Written by
Mark Smith <email@example.com>
In the end, Nick's plane lands in Frankfurt, Germany. However, the police cars have license plates from Munich ("F" vs. "M"). See more »
[Nick and Lisa are fleeing Asia on a flight to Frankfurt]
Did you say we stop at Abu Dhabi?
That's where they cut your hands off.
Oh, don't be ridiculous. They'd just stone you.
[they start laughing hysterically]
Poor old Barings, eh? That's what you get for hiring the wrong sort of person.
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I very much enjoyed this film for two main reasons. Firstly, it closely resembles the book written by Nick Leeson, and secondly it does take slow steps to try and guide the viewer through the complex world of options & futures.
The film did leave a realistic impression of what the high-life is for some of these traders especially those from England to which Singapore must have felt like another world. The soundtrack, although quite varying at times, also helps create the buzz of Singapore & Asia in the early 90's.
There have been a lot of vocal critics of the film with comments such as boring and lack of dramatic material, but I often prefer films that stay strictly to the subject material and don't get too carried away for dramatic effect.
The performance which I actually thought was best was that of Lee Ross who played Nick's friend Danny. Although quite different from the character in the book (Danny actually doesn't drink and is Greek not English), Lee's performance was well-rounded and very enjoyable as the loyal and dependable friend of Nick. That scene in the bar during the famous "mooning" incident was hilarious.
If you look closely during the film you will actually see the real Danny Argyropoulos & "Ches" Lemming of which the latter actually worked alongside Nick on the Simex trading floor.
Ewan McGregor was great as usual and I often find it strange to see the real Nick Leeson in a photo, as I'd became so accustomed to seeing Ewan as Nick. The very attractive Anna Friel didn't have much material to work with, but did manage to pull off the role of Lisa Sims.
Although I've read much criticism of Nick Leeson, I still have seen or heard nothing to make me doubt the overall story as told by Nick. He could have put a very big boot into Barings when writing his book and would have been perfectly justified in doing so, but his main criticism was of their management practices and not whether he was in fact a "Fall Guy" for Barings.
When reading the criticism of Nick, I've tried to put myself in his position and try to imagine how things were for him. Imagine you've been offered a fantastic job in the vibrant early 1990's market of Singapore, you've just been married, and your earning a fantastic salary. Surround yourself with many others like yourself, and you can imagine how things can get carried away with young guys in their mid-20's who must have thought of themselves as invincible.
In the end I did end up feeling quite sorry for Nick. I'm sure if I'd lost money from investments in Barings, my sympathy wouldn't be as strong! But going from the high life in Singapore to being alone for 4 years in a jail cell is quite a shock to anyone and especially with the added pressure of developing cancer and ultimately the breakdown of your marriage. Having to part with your wife in that German police station must have been very hard.
Lisa sums up the subject material late in the film when she said to Nick; "You were gambling, with other people's money", and if that is the case, then Nick is guilty as sin. But, according to the story, it all started from trying to fix the errors of others and so on. He did get himself back to profit at one point, but with most gamblers, especially after winning back lost money, it's hard to resist that one last punt.
Chin up Nick!
4 out of 5 stars
13 of 16 people found this review helpful.
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