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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I had high hopes for this film ever since I saw the teaser trailer of
Gekko getting released from prison. It has everything you need for
success. Iconic characters, interesting subject, good acting and great
cinematography. Unfortunately I was greatly disappointed by snooze fest
with a meandering story with no focus and some strange "green" message.
The movie starts off trying to set up LeBeouf's characters motivation. But even that is never clear. Is he financially or morally invested in some fusion project or both? Does he want to get his girlfriend and her father back together for her or because he wants a new mentor? Is he a greedy Wall Street guy with great ideas or is he some Eco-warrior trying to change the world? And then there's some half assed revenge plot against some financial tycoon who ends up embodying the entire financial meltdown.
Through out the film the audience is drug along as these plots come and go. At one point the most important thing to the main character is getting revenge against Brolin's character and ends up working for him. But instead of getting revenge, he try's to get an investor in green technology. When his boss, who's he trying to take down, doesn't invest in the green technology LeBeouf's character breaks down and quits. So he forgets revenge and returns to getting his girlfriend back together with her father Gordon Gekko. At some point Gekko mentions he left his daughter $100 million which, strangely enough, is the exact amount that he wanted his last boss to invest in the green company. So he starts tricking his girlfriend into signing all the money over to her father who has promised to give it to the green company. LeBeouf's character is the only person on Earth who doesn't know that a guy who went to prison for insider trading might not be trust worthy. So surprise, surprise Gekko runs off with the money and we are treated to a ripoff of The Usual Suspects as LeBeouf thinks back to all the situations that showed Gekko is lying. So he goes back to revenge.
So all of that along with more uncomfortable close ups of a girl crying then I can count, a number of strange transitions and the worst cameo I've ever seen with Charlie Sheen showing up as Bud Fox. He appears out of nowhere for no reason with two girls on his arm acting more like Charlie from Two and a Half Men than Bud Fox.
All of this happens at a snails pace and makes you wonder if Stone has seen the first film in 20 years. I'm waiting for the sequel to Platoon where we skip the battle scenes and focus on a girl crying and some general who makes weird bird noises after every line.
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps isn't the sharp, critical film that its
makers want you to think of it as. The sequel to the supremely
influential, endlessly quotable original from the 80's is a dull
whimper about what triggered the present financial meltdown and though
it's cut from the same cloth as the original, it possess all of the
bark yet, sadly, none of the bite.
Gordon Gekko is a name that defined an era. Played by Michael Douglas twenty three years ago, he reverberated in the minds of viewers as a ruthless, amoral investor without a soul. Years later, the sequel finds him released after serving his prison sentence. Cut to seven years after his release, and its 2008, the dawn of the financial crisis. Gekko is now known as a speaker publicly vilifying the notion of greed in corporate America while simultaneously, and some would reckon quite ironically, publicizing his book inspiringly titled "Is Greed Good". A loner who travels in subways, he is estranged from his daughter Winnie (Carey Mulligan, androgynously unglamorous) who is engaged to a young trader named Jake Moore (Shia LaBeouf). Jake bumps into Gekko at one of his speeches (the films finest scene) and the two form a mentor-protégé relationship that irks Winnie but allows Jake to benefit by plotting revenge from Bretton James (Josh Brolin, the films principle villain), suspected of being responsible for the suicide of Louis Zabel, a close friend and confidant of Jake.
If the film sounds like a mess of relationships, then it is. As muddled as Stone's own political activism it has no clarity on what its trying to say. From trying to rationalize the reasons behind the market crash to the impulsive nature of human behaviour, it doesn't get either right. Not helping are the actors that Stone assembles. It's a mystery to me why Shia LaBeouf is constantly being thrust down viewer throats in film after film by studios convinced he is the next best thing. He is not, and despite being dressed up in expensive designer garb, cannot pass off as being anything more convincing than a working intern. His relationship with Gekko has none of the enticing quality that Charlie Sheen's Bud Fox did and a cameo appearance by Sheen only underscores this disparity. Douglas himself has none of the limelight. He has some powerful lines, but feels largely sidelined by the revenge/relationship/murder subplots and behaves uncharacteristically, especially in the very last scene (these were probably added as an afterthought). After showing some promise of returning to his incendiary, often infuriating filmmaking style and point of view with his previous film W, director Stone seems to have gone back to being comfortable working with drab studio approved material.
Not only was the original Wall Street a tremendously entertaining film, but one that was blessed with the critical foresight of its maker. The sequel partially entertains but does not have a new perspective. It is neither critical nor insightful and could have, with the same script and actors, been the work of a lesser director than Stone. The films themes are also impersonal - none of the characters suffer directly from the financial crisis the way they did in the original, they suffer from their own incompetent decision making, a sharp departure from how the original handled and fused stock trading with personal loss and gain.
The first twenty minutes were very promising. Then it got boring.
Extremely boring. There just isn't any plot. Gekko (Michael Douglas)
getting together with his daughter maybe was touching for a moment. But
the girl crying all the time got on my nerves. She is supposed to be an
adult. In stead she is acting like a little child. I like Shia, but
what on earth was he representing. At least Charlie Sheen as Bud Fox
had a clear objective. (Speaking of which, his cameo as the guy we know
from Two and a half men is so in contrast of the character Bud Fox that
completely diminishes the first movie. I could not believe that they
would make a parody of his role). Shia's character was a guy who was
ambitious but stuck with his green energy project. While any men or
woman with common sense would bail on it. No, it is the right thing do.
Oh, please. Now, this isn't Shia's fault. But I blame Oliver Stone for
this, what happened to you. He used to be brilliant. This movie is not
even a good depiction of the economic crisis the world is in right now,
so it is not even enlightening. If there was one thing you could count
on it was how meticulous Oliver Stone was when it comes to history and
actual topics. In this film that is completely absent.
I can't recommend this at all. In the first place there should have never been a sequel to Wall Street. That tale was ended. Secondly how is it possible that a sequel directed by Oliver Stone ruins the the spirit of the original one in every way it can. This is an incredible waste of time and celluloid. Don't bother.
I loved this movie until its final thirty minutes or so. During those
thirty minutes you realize that Stone and his team of writers were
searching desperately for a way to end the movie on a positive, hopeful
note. We are left to plod along with them on this implausible track.
Also, during the ending Gekko's daughter's character consistency is
shot to hell and she appears as venal as the characters against whom
Those moments are especially disappointing because I believed that this movie had the potential to be Stone's best film ever. Carey Mulligan and Michael Douglas in particular delivered great performances. Shia Lebeouf is "good enough." The writing is fairly unpredictable then everything seems to be tied into a nice bundle near the end. The problem was that Stone couldn't quite bring himself to put the bow on that bundle. He wanted to add a bit of glitter to it, which seemed gaudy and completely out of place.
Bottom line: if this movie had ended on a somewhat dark note it would have reflected the reality of modern day Wall Street, and it would have made for a tighter, better movie.
It's worth watching, and if you liked the first Wall Street it probably won't disappoint you. You might want to leave during its third act, though :)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Wall Street Money Never Sleep had a great premise at the beginning
- return of great characters from the original and very interesting
subject matter (worst financial and economical crisis since the World
War II). While the movie succeeds in taking us through the financial
crisis as it gradually unfolded, it is constantly dragged down by way
too many plot points, but mainly the hardly believable revenge and very
slow paced love story subplots.
Let's get one thing clear at the beginning first. It is an immensely difficult task for the writers to portray the financial crisis into a movie for general masses, while explaining the workings of the crisis, not bogging down the viewers with too much financial jargon and at the same time keep the movie entertaining. This is the part that you can see the makers have made their homework and is something to be appreciated about the movie, such as the Bear Sterns inspired collapse of Keller Zabel.
My biggest problem with the movie is that the character with the most screen time, Jacob Moore, is not a believable character. It might be due to casting Shia LeBouf, who for one looks too young and too soft to be earning $1.5m bonuses and living in a $6m apartment. Second, he is a "prop trader," which means that his job is to constantly trade stocks on his company's account. Yet, we see him trying to raise $100m for a renewable energy source, which isn't the job of prop traders. Even he is pitching the idea to Chinese investors, which is nonsense, since he would have had nothing to say about the company unless he was an equity analyst responsible for the energy sector. This brings the obvious question, why was he so interested in the little fusion plant project? His job is to make money not save the world.
And than there are the inconsistencies and plot holes: At the beginning of the movie Jacob invests $1m from his bonus on 50% margin into his firm Keller Zabel and keeps his position even as the stock is plummeting putting him into sizeable amount of debt (film hinted $0.5 mil). Now, first firms usually prohibit employees on speculating on their own stock due to the possibility of having insider information and second if Jacob was such an excellent prop trader he wouldn't have touched the stock if there were rumors of its impending collapse. This alone is hardly believable and our intelligence is assaulted again when the film somehow forgets his debt (before he even admits the debt when proposing to his girlfriend), when he writes his mom a check for $200,000 without a second thought.
Jacob spreads rumors about an African oil rig being nationalized in which Bretton's company has a big stake, which ended up costing the company millions. And Gekko ends up explaining to Jacob that it was illegal because he pushed other people to make traders based on false information, so Jacob realizes that the two are alike. How can a Wall Street rainmaker such as Jacob not realize that he manipulated the markets, which is illegal?
Other problems: Gekko's London hedge fund growing from $100 mil to $1.1 bil during Winney's pregnancy? At one point, we saw workers dismantling the fusion plant, would it have been too little too late to give the $100m to an empty factory site?
To conclude, this is a revenge and redemption movie with Wall Street and market crash as a backdrop. If they had cut down the crying-girl scenes, to improve pacing, maybe it could have turned out better. This way, it's just plain bad.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"What actually happened to Gordon and Bud?" That was the question I
asked myself after seeing "Wall Street" for the first time. The film,
set in 1985, had an amazing loose end outside of a courthouse that
lasted 23 years.
"Wall Street" and its "Greed is Good" mantra set a standard for the future stockbrokers of America. It was the epitome of dog-eat-dog. Speaking of dogs, one of the best lines from the film was, "If you need a friend, get a dog." It set the tone for the era; love will betray you and money will always be loyal.
"Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" set in 2008, right before the financial bubble burst, is Oliver Stone's sequel to his original. The title of the sequel takes its name from a line uttered by the legendary corporate raider Gordon Gekko (played by Michael Douglas, who also won an Academy Award for Best Actor in the first film).
The story begins with Gekko being released from prison into a world that has forgotten about him in 2001. Fast forward to 2008, we are introduced to a young couple Jake Moore (played by Shia LaBeouf) and Winnie Gekko (played by Carey Mulligan). Jake is an ambitious Wall Street investment banker. Winnie is an online activist and also Gekko's estranged daughter. The investment firm Jake works for is about to go under and his mentor, Louis Zabel (played by Frank Langella), is making some bad decisions for their firm.
Gekko doesn't reappear for another 30 minutes when he gives a grand opening speech at his alma mater to promote his new book. Greed is legal and everyone is doing it, that's Gekko's message. He lets us know it's not solely the banks' fault, nor is it entirely the government's fault. It is the consumer who helped put us into this dismal recession. Wait, so is greed bad? It's starting to sound that way.
The story turns back to Jake. After Louis passes on, Jake is distraught and wants vengeance. He blames Bretton James (played by Josh Brolin) for pushing his mentor out of business. He also wants to bring Gordon and Winnie closer together. He devises a plan to take a good chunk of money from Bretton while simultaneously trading information with Gekko about both Bretton and Winnie. The plot does mirror Bud Fox's (played by Charlie Sheen) ambition in the first film. Both characters have the willingness to deceive those around them in order to succeed and also to gain Gekko's respect.
Stone has changed the pace of the film from the original. In "Wall Street," the scenes of trading and the under-handed behaviors were intense and fast. There was the moment of Fox and Gekko bartering over stock on the phone that just jumped off the screen with tension and energy. It had the same feel and excitement of action shots from an "Indiana Jones" film.
In "Money Never Sleeps," Stone takes his time and uses long brush strokes to paint his modern pictures of high society. We are no longer wearing power ties and eating steak tartar for lunch (by the way lunch is for wimps). We are going green and eating less red meat. Stone understood the dynamic shift in the culture on Wall Street and captured that change on film.
I am not a financial guy; I know very little about Bulls and Bears. The great thing about Stone and the reliable cast is that they model for the audience the changes in the market. If you are still lost after the visual aids, you can follow the actors' reactions to the events. We comprehend the tension in the room in a scene where the leaders of the top investment firms are sitting around an enormous oak table inside a boardroom arguing about selling off a company. The ardent back and forth at the table set the mood that things were not going improve for the economy.
The story continues with several double cross events and even some heartfelt moments that we didn't see much of in the first film. The film does its job of being a sequel. It tells us what happens to the main characters (including a fun cameo by Charlie Sheen) and shows us more than one dimension of Gekko's "Winner Takes All" attitude.
Should you see this movie? If you need closure on Gekko's corporate odyssey, then yes, go see it. If you want a snapshot of how we got into this economic mess two years ago, then go ahead and see it.
However, I am disappointed in the title of the film. It's a powerful, attractive title. I went in thinking it was going to be a film about money, power and greed, but it is a film about human relationships and redemption.
Beware of the ending; it's un-Gekko-like and even un-Stone-like. The message was that love is more powerful than money. Maybe the hippies were right. Maybe all we need is love.
I have mentioned before that director Oliver Stone seriously thought
about retiring after Natural Born Killers. That movie took so much out
of him (and I think the previous JFK did also in the aftermath of that
film), that he said: "I don't think I have another one in me". At that
time I thought he was crazy. But looking back at what he has made since
NBK. Maybe not
Stone's new film has 3 maybe 4 good scenes and all of
them were in the trailer. The scenes of the release of Gekko are well
done and set up for a nice premise. But it all just falls apart. Or it
really never gets going. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps fits perfectly
in the new Oliver Stone trend. Before 1994, his films were raw, edgy
and a little rebellious. World Trade Center, W. and Wall Street 2 all
have the appearance of politically engaging or hard-hitting films. But
they are not. Tame would be an understatement. Pleasing would be
better. Oliver Stone has lost his will to fight. He's got bills
(probably a big house, swimming pool, alimony and stuff). He just wants
a job and please the studio and the audience. It almost looks like he
doesn't want much hassle with his films after they come out.
Wall Street 2 is such a disappointment I don't know where to start. Maybe the biggest let down was in the smallest amount of celluloid: the cameo of Charlie Sheen as Bud Fox. His character Fox was a character we could relate to. Especially in his scene with his father Martin Sheen. But his cameo was so wrong, so out of place, so not Bud Fox, it diminishes the entire first movie. Bud Fox is now Charlie from Two and a Half Man.
Let me go on with the characters: The successor of Bud Fox is now Jake Moore, a kid who doesn't blink when he gets a 1.5 million dollar bonus. Off course, in the banking industry this is normal. So, it is authentic that Jake doesn't flinch. His girlfriend has an Iphone, does something with a website but other then that they really don't have to work for a living seeing the house they live in. Live really has no challenges left for these two. So maybe that why Jake has such a hard on for his 'Green Project'. But I'm just guessing here. Bud Fox wanted to be filthy rich, he wanted to be a player. Jake Moore doesn't want anything. And we should watch for him for 2 somewhat hours Josh Brolin, the actor with the single most dangerous look in Hollywood, comes off as such a whiny boy. You do not believe he is the successor of Gordon Gekko. One or two times Shia LaBoeuf's character Jake Moore went head to head with Brolin and I couldn't help but think: "This is so unbelievable. Brolin's character should clock this spoiled brat right on the nose". If anyone can tell me what value or what message I should take from the motorcycle-scene: you can e-mail me.
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps misses edge, a believable script and ditto characters. It is a missed opportunity at best, and a total failure if I am really honest. It demises it's classic predecessor, has a weak script where the cutthroat mentality in the banking industry is played out in such a cliché manner. Josh Brolin is grossly underused. Shia LaBoeuf is overplayed, because he's not that great an actor. Not as a serious adult anyway. But that's Stone's fault. Charlie Sheen isn't a great actor, but 20 years ago Stone could direct him in a way that made him believable. That Oliver Stone is no more, as you can see with the awful cameo of Sheen. The problem for this sequel is that it totally diminishes the first film. It takes all the good things from the first film and throws it out. What's left is chewed up, spit out and rehashed. Money never sleeps, but the audience does.
Sequels rarely come out of a comparison looking good - and this one's
no exception. The original Wall Street was a classic on several planes,
but "Never Sleeps" just isn't.
Douglas, as usual, gives a strong and perceptive performance: he is backed up by the rest of the cast. The acting throughout is good.
So are the camera-work, the lighting, the sets and the locations.
The problem is in the direction: at 133 minutes this film doesn't have the meat to fill the time out. Twenty minutes could be cut and there would be little effect on the storytelling, there's so little of it. Visual metaphors come in chunks and, yes - we *do* get them. It's just that they don't advance the action: it's almost as if we've suddenly turned up at a powerpoint presentation.
And what on earth possessed Stone to spend so much time on aerial shots of the city? This isn't a travelogue, for God's sake. And exactly why is a slightly competitive motorbike ride brought into it? Because a couple of bikes happened to be available and the trees were turning? This is year 12 film club stuff, Oliver.
I gave this movie four out of ten, but, thinking about it i have come back to edit my review to a three. I'd better stay clear of IMDb or we could end up with one.....
The general feeling of drift was, for me, not exactly helped by a pretty ordinary soundtrack. Some of the dialogue is indistinguishable from the background track and, at times, the score is also a hindrance rather than a necessary part of the experience.
I have had to walk out of several films this last year: there are so few movies being made that justify anything like the moolah being spent on them. I stayed to the bitter end of "Never Sleeps" and will give it a generous four - but it won't be on my DVD Christmas list.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When I heard that Stone was filming a sequel to Wall Street, and that the subject matter would be based around the collapse of Lehmans and Bear Stearns, I was very excited indeed. What an excellent opportunity for a tense, clever financial melodrama, just like the original. Unfortunately, Stone sold out. He instead decided to provide a back story around the daughter that Gekko left behind, and that a human interest tale would be sufficient. I was shocked when Gekko wept for his past crimes. He came across as a wimp. This was not the way it should have been. Gekko should instead have come out of jail all guns blazing, behaving the same way that he did before he went in, and then come a cropper as a result of the financial collapse. I am also appalled at the casting of Shia LaBeouf as a top stockbroker. He doesn't act convincingly at all. Josh Brolin has great screen presence but he is cast in the role of a villain, with no decent lines or material to get his teeth into. We don't get to see any shadowy business dealings that would give flesh to the premise that he is one of the bad guys. Instead a very weak plot line has Frank Langella play a mentor of the LaBeouf character, who is betrayed by Brolin and commits suicide. This becomes the basis for LaBeouf's revenge. The revenge when it happens is not great. LaBeouf rats Brolin out to the authorities for insider trading. Hardly The Sting. Also when Gekko finally betrays his daughter, it doesn't convince either.The ending was disappointing, with it's Waltons sucrose sentimentality. This shoddy sequel makes it hard to watch the original Wall Street now without a bad taste in the mouth. One of the most objectionable scenes was the appearance of Charlie Sheen as Bud Fox, the playboy, with a model on either arm, boasting about how much money he made when he sold Bluestar airlines, and completely betraying the important life lessons he had discovered by the end of the original film. Thanks for taking a wrecking ball to my memories of your original Oscar winning film, Oliver. Please don't do any more sequels, or further destroy your CV.
Of course i did not watch this hoping for a retread of the original.
What would be the point of that? But all you are left with after
watching this is two hours and thirteen minutes of further evidence for
the terminal decline of Oliver Stones career.
The current banking/financial crisis forms the backdrop for Money Never Sleeps but is barely explored. The story is lumbered with relationship issues centred around Gekko's daughter which only serve to slow the film down and dissipate what little interest the movie generates.
Josh Brolin is served up as the villain but when the only victims of the villain shown on screen are fellow members of the financial services industry this hardly generates much in the way of sympathy. Stone also adds into the mix the 21st century tee shirts of political correctness and environmental issues. Yawn. As all the leading actors are horribly miscast contributing bland performances it's left to Michael Douglas to save the day. Alas an older and wiser Gekko is not what i particularly wanted to see and although he pulls off a sly trick three quarters of the way through Stone bottles it with the redemptive ending.
So in comparison, the original Wall Street was an engrossing rags to riches to rags morality play with characters you cared for including an unintentional anti hero. Money never sleeps is a corporate, empty, superficial snooze fest from a once great, but no longer, director.
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