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20 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

He Was Right – No One Would Listen

9/10
Author: Chris_Pandolfi from Los Angeles, CA
27 August 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Chasing Madoff" is a documentary that plays like a tightly wound political thriller. There's no action or major special effects, which is fine because they're not necessary – the facts alone are liable to get your heart pounding in sheer suspense. It presents to us the story of former securities industry executive Harry Markopolos, who, along with a team of trusted investigators, would embark on a ten-year odyssey to expose Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme, the largest act of financial fraud in history. As he risked everything following a trail of complicit white-collar henchmen, he found himself at odds with the press, who would mysteriously undermine his efforts to tell the public the truth, and with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), who failed to act despite being repeatedly tipped off. He would eventually go on to author the book "No One Would Listen: A True Financial Thriller."

It began back in 1999, when Markopolos still worked for Rampart Investment Management. One of his company's trading partners was working with Madoff, a hedge fund manager who could consistently deliver net returns of one-to-two percent a month. Hoping to get the trading partner to diversify away from Madoff, Markopolos was asked to design a product very similar his split-strike conversion. But within five minutes of looking at Madoff's revenue stream, Markopolos knew something was drastically wrong; the chart showed a stream that continued to rise at an almost perfect forty-five-degree angle, which would be impossible given how badly Madoff's strategy was structured on paper. Markopolos also knew that, even in the best of conditions, markets are always too volatile to allow for such returns. There were only two possible explanations, neither of which was legal: Either Madoff was front running, or he was the mastermind of a Ponzi scheme.

Several attempts at deconstructing and replicating Madoff's strategy, made possible through information on his trades in stocks and options, proved that his returns could not be simulated. At this point, Markopolos and several colleagues at Rampart took it upon themselves to investigate Madoff. A formal complaint was filed with the SEC, but they took no action whatsoever. After travelling to Europe, where he discovered that fourteen funds were invested with Madoff, Markopolos had gathered enough conclusive data to draft a twenty-one-page memo – "The World's Largest Hedge Fund is a Fraud" – and send it to the SEC. This was in November of 2005, at which point he was consumed by the need to bring Madoff down. His efforts proved threatening to his own safety; many of the funds invested with Madoff were operated offshore, which could only mean ties to the Russian Mafia and drug cartels from Latin America.

At what point is an investigation no longer worth the risk? Writer/producer/director Jeff Prosserman examines Markopolos just as closely as he does the Madoff scandal. We see a very humble military man who has dedicated seventeen years of his life to part-time service in the Maryland Army National Guard and Army Reserve. We see a devoted husband and father. Most importantly, we see a financial expert whose almost obsessive need to blow the whistle on Madoff lead to paranoia. Highly effective dramatic reenactments, starring Markopolos and his family, show the lengths he went to ensure not just his safety, but also the safety of his family. He would check every inch of his car each morning to make sure there were no explosive devices. He became a sniper. He instructed his wife on what to do should anyone ever break into the house, namely stand at the top of the stairs with a gun and keep firing until all the bullets ran out. While walking in the woods, he taught his sons to avoid stepping on twigs; if anyone wanted to hurt them, the snapping noises would give their positions away.

Intertwined with the Madoff case are brief interviews with a few of Madoff's victims, who lost absolutely everything they had. They're not identified by their names, but rather by their case numbers. This was, I believe, an intentional move on Prosserman's part; despite the impersonal labels, which reflect how someone like Madoff would view them, reasonable, compassionate audiences will see them as damaged human beings. Their heartbreaking stories of financial ruin are second only to the tragedy of Thierry de la Villehuchet, a French businessman who, because of his involvement with Madoff, committed suicide in 2008. If you think about, it was actually a rather noble act on his part. When you damage something beyond repair, even inadvertently, the decent thing to do is take responsibility for your actions.

The true villain of this story is the SEC, which missed numerous red flags and ignored all of Markopolos' early tips. Key figures of the organization – most notably Linda Thomsen, its top enforcement official – were not fired from their positions. Instead, they were allowed to resign. As for Madoff, yes, he was ultimately arrested and sentenced to 150 years in prison. But for Markopolos, it's a bittersweet victory. He believes Madoff was caught not because of actual investigative work, but simply because he could no longer carry on under the weight of his own lies. In effect, he gave himself up and jail was the only option he had left. He also believes that Madoff personally kept less than one percent of the $65 million he stole, and that he'll be cheated out of whatever remains by money launderers. "Madoff will wind up in a special prison designed as much to keep the crook's victims out as Madoff in," he said in a "Boston Herald" interview. "He's a guy who can't afford not to be in prison." So you tell me: If by being in prison he's under the protection of the American government, has justice really been served?

-- Chris Pandolfi (www.atatheaternearyou.net)

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12 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

The cure for simplistic ideology.

9/10
Author: raypaquin from Pembroke, Ontario, Canada
14 August 2012

Read the other reviews. There, you will find two schools of thought; those who rate this documentary ***very*** highly and those who rate is ***very*** poorly. What's going on ? This is, I believe, a microcosm of the United States today where simplistic ideology rules Washington. On one hand, you will find those who argue that more regulation is needed and, on the other hand, those who argue that less regulation is the cure because the bureaucrats in Washington are unable to regulate competently. The facts are that if your local firemen are incompetent, the solution is NOT to eliminate fire-fighters, as some right-wingers argue, but to insure that they are competent. The solution is also NOT to increase the number of firemen, as some left-wingers argue. Essentially, this documentary argues not from the viewpoint of Bernie Madoff's evil, but from the viewpoint of the incompetence of Washington bureaucrats. THAT is the truth.

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11 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

The most interesting telling of this story yet

10/10
Author: Alan Winter from United States
29 April 2012

I don't understand the low marks for this film. It's a lively, fascinating telling of the Madoff tale, or rather, the two Madoff tales -- one about what he did and how he got caught, the other about how the people he did it to tried to protect him.

It's refreshing to see everyday people working in finance, and even more impressive to see them exercising values like sacrifice, courage, and the rule of law. Maybe the film is 10 minutes too long, but that's a small price to pay for this story.

If you're looking for an action film, rent 'Let the Bullets Fly.' If you're looking for an entertaining overview of the largest financial fraud in history, and its relevance for the rest of us, this is your documentary.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Chasing Fame

3/10
Author: (moviereviews.by.vladimir@gmail.com) from Netherlands
23 April 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Markopolis was a hero in my book for a brief moment. That ended after I saw multiple interviews with him and this documentary. This documentary is basically a Markopolis worship movie. Throughout we are told how big of a hero he is, that he needs to fear for his life and his family safety, that he has a gun and how special he is in general. It's tiring beyond imaginable borders. Frankly, Markopolis' behaviour looks buffoon-ish. The truth is that he never was in any danger. And he did not chase Madoff because he has a good heart.

It all started because Markopolis was after the secret of Madoff because he stole much of the customers from Markopolis. We also had to endure this statement that if you steal customers from a Greek then the Greek is coming for you! It's a valid Greek 'myth' if you will and Markopolis referenced it to look like a tough guy. Wasn't convincing though. Markoplis has grit for sure, but that's not the same as being a tough guy.

The victims were mostly of Jewish heritage, much to the dismay of the Jewish community as it gave them a bad name for being greedy. By now about 80% of the funds have been retrieved and given back to the victims.

Like mentioned before, this documentary is mostly about Markopolis' supposed greatness. We don't learn much about the ins and outs of how things went down. The documentary should have told in what ways the governmental institutions failed. Yet this kind of information is kept to a minimum and at a very low level. There are much better documentaries out there.

I saw an interview where Markopolis claimed that only Wall Street papers were negative about this movie, as it tried to make Wall Street look bad. But even on IMDb, where known names are usually honoured with (sometimes suspiciously) high ratings, you can read the bad ratings. The movie is a big ego boosting thing, it truly is a bad instalment and a waste of time for those who would have loved to learn something.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Subject is very interesting, subjects are relevant, direction and editing are atrocious

5/10
Author: andrelot from Netherlands
10 March 2014

This documentary explores very interesting aspects of what went on behind the curtains while the massive Bernie Madoff's scheme developed, expanded and ultimately collapsed.

However, the documentary wastes the potential by using a very weak and wacky personal storyline anchor, which becomes repetitive and ultimately annoying after one of the main subjects starts putting out his paranoia for the n-th time.

The end result is a clumsy piece that bumps from a few high moment between a repetitive cycle of self-pity, delusion and confused thoughts of a man that slide into it after not seeing any results from his push to expose a major fraud in the making.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Searing Indictment of SEC, Federal Gov't, & Wall Street

8/10
Author: Larry Silverstein from United States
11 March 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This documentary, written and directed by Jeff Prosserman, is an absolutely scathing indictment of the SEC, our Federal Gov't, and Wall Street. I remember when the Madoff fraud came to light, amidst the world financial crisis, seeing Harry Markopolos testifying before Congress, and giving other interviews. I was incredulous at first, that his man had tipped off the SEC about Madoff many years before and that no action was taken. However, as the truth and the facts have emerged, I now believe every last scintilla of what he said.

How is this possible? The SEC, whose primary role is to investigate fraud in the financial industry and make sure the players in the financial world are playing by the rules, did nothing to expose a multi-billion dollar fraud. They couldn't even make a few phone calls, as Markopolos states, which would have easily exposed that their alleged trades were never done.

You see in the film, several members of Congress, grilling present and former SEC execs and auditors, and asking the same question. None of them had any answers. Yet, now years later there have been very few arrests and indictments not only regarding the Madoff case but for any of the fraudsters involved in the world banking crisis. So, one may ask have we really learned our lesson? The documentary is kind of a strange one because it can really be melodramatic as Markopolos recounts all the events that occurred regarding Madoff. He may even seem a little paranoid at times, as he worries about his, and his family's safety, as a prime whistleblower. My personal opinion is that he had reason to worry, as strange beatings, threats, and deaths have occurred to some who put themselves out there like that.

To me, in summary, this is a scary piece of film, which highlights how embedded the elite are in running our financial systems. Is it any wonder that the Occupy Wall Street messages caught on like wildfire for awhile. The 1% almost always run the show at the expense of the rest of us 99%er's

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

The schemer

4/10
Author: jotix100 from New York
10 October 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Harry Markopolos, the man at the center of this documentary, had no clue into what he was about to embark, when his friend, Frank Casey, asked him to check the numbers in a firm that was the 'star' of the investment world. Mr. Casey's intention was to be able to comprehend the success of a powerful man in New York, one Bernard Madoff. It only took Harry five minutes to realize he was looking at the largest fraud perpetrated in the financial annals of the world.

The documentary "Chasing Madoff"', conceived by its director, Jeff Prosserman, and based on the book written by Mr. Markopolos, while trying to clarify the way Mr. Madoff was able to fool everyone, is a dull piece of movie-making. The style the director uses does not add anything to the story that has been told and retold after the scandal broke in 2008. Mr. Markopolos and the other principals keep repeating themselves while the main villain of the story, Bernard Madoff is only a passing thought.

Harry Markopolos had reasons to believe his life would be in danger. He became paranoid, expecting his death, or the harming to his family. His reports to the SEC went directly to the waste basket, so he should not have worried unnecessarily. The best thing in the documentary is the appearance of Congressman Gary Ackerman questioning the big shots of the SEC, the people who should have detected the fraud and sat idly by.

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13 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Tedious and annoying

3/10
Author: Jason VanMason from usa
15 April 2012

There have been many documentary shows about Madoff. It's a fascinating and horrifying story. But this example resembles a low budget episode of a "crooks and grifters" TV reality show. Obviously, video of Madoffs early career is rare. But the producers fill the void with stock shots, clips from old time movies and inserts that are clearly meant to provide something to watch as the narrator drones on. And to keep things interesting they rely on every cinematic bromide that their computer can manage: inserts with the edges out of focus, sepia toned clips to simulate "vintage" material and flicker-frame montages that repeat the same pointless visuals over and over and over. Its a 40 minute TV show inflated to feature length. Frontline, BBC and others have covered this material better. And the video is well laced with sobbing investors, folks rich enough to interest Madoff with their millions, yet foolish and careless enough to have blindly put all their nest eggs in the same basket. They claim over and over that they have "lost everything" when it is well known that the investors did get a substantial portion of their money back. The Frontline Madoff Affair is a much better watch.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Chaotic truth

4/10
Author: smits59 from Netherlands
17 April 2014

The story of Bernie Madoff is well known; the biggest Ponzie-scheme ever! Less well known is how Madoff was de-cloaked. Chasing Madoff tells this story, but not in a very well executed way. The speed of the movie is more like a MTV-clip than a documentary. And I found this distracting. Also quit a lot of the time the movie constitutes of people telling how good they themselves were in catching Madoff. With all due respect for the people who brought Madoff to justice; I would have enjoyed it much more if the story was told at a slower pace and if at had been a story about the hunters. All The Presidents Men is an great example what could have been....

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

What a disappointment

1/10
Author: Eric (eric-1268) from Netherlands
28 July 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Well, what a huge disappointment that was. "A look at how one investigator spent ten years trying to expose Bernie Madoff's massive Ponzi scheme."

Too bad this one investor, Harry Markopolos, turns out to be one of the most uninteresting people alive. I was looking forward to get detailed information on Madoff, but unfortunately I got to see Markopolos parents, school, church, his extreme paranoia about getting killed and loads of other information I didn't care about.

The information in this documentary could have been cut to +/- 30 minutes without all of the useless stuff. It's a shame, because this documentary could have been really great if it would provide more information about Madoff himself.

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