A respected financial company is downsizing and one of the victims is the risk management division head, who was working on a major analysis just when he was let go. His protégé completes the study late into the night and then frantically calls his colleagues in about the company's financial disaster he has discovered. What follows is a long night of panicked double checking and double dealing as the senior management prepare to do whatever it takes to mitigate the debacle to come even as the handful of conscientious comrades find themselves dragged along into the unethical abyss. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
The CEO's name, John Tuld, rhymes with the name of the ex-CEO of the now-defunct investment bank Lehman Brothers, Richard S. Fuld. Lehman Brothers, like the firm in this film, found themselves catastrophically over-leveraged in mortgage-backed-securities in the financial crisis of 2008. They eventually declared bankruptcy, and Richard Fuld was heavily criticized for his involvement in these events. See more »
Financial institutions of that magnitude always have high profile security setups. No computer screen could be unlocked if the employee is away. Even if the person forgot to lock it while leaving, automated security settings would lock the screen after a defined period of time. See more »
This is a film that is sure to get some comparisons to Glengarry Glen Ross and as a deconstruction of stoic men hitting a breaking point, it does offer a similar kind of study (albeit not nearly as good) with a fantastic cast of great male actors. As it starts out, it seemed like the story was going to give some attention to the moral complexities that must have occurred with men in this position (the investment brokers on the eve of the financial crisis), but as the film progresses it turns more and more into an acting showcase with a little bit of focus on the ramifications of what they were involved in.
I feel that someone like Sorkin could have given it a lot more bite, but as it stands it still works as a fine display of some solid acting skills. Paul Bettany, despite a horrendously confusing and uneven accent, gives one of the best performances of his career. Stanley Tucci isn't in it much, but he absolutely steals every scene he has. Simon Baker and Jeremy Irons are expertly ruthless and Kevin Spacey gives us a glimpse of that talent he displayed in the '90s that has been far too absent this past decade. The film peaks too early, leaving a final act that drags quite a bit, and there's a symbolic subplot with Spacey's dog that is embarrassingly heavy-handed, but it's certainly worth watching if only for the chance to watch a great male cast do their thing.
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