When you break apart the essential elements of “Money Monster
,” Jodie Foster
’s taut yet sporadically odd hostage drama, few of them seem to completely work. As an indictment of Wall Street chicanery, it’s largely toothless; as a pure thriller, it only quickens the pulse once or twice; as a conspiracy saga, its central mystery falls flat.
Yet somehow the film hangs together surprisingly well, thanks to on-point performances from George Clooney
and Julia Roberts
, a sprinkle of obtuse humor and Foster’s streamlined direction, which takes style notes from the likes of “Dog Day Afternoon
” and “Inside Man
” in the service of a far more lightweight confection. It may not linger long in the memory after credits roll, and what multiplex audiences make of the film is anyone’s guess, but in a landscape short on no-frills grown-up entertainment, it’s worth the modest time investment.