Too Big to Fail (TV Movie 2011) Poster

(2011 TV Movie)

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5/10
Paulson was no altruistic hero
kelly-ann-mchale18 August 2011
Unfortunately the filmmakers felt the need to create a "hero" of the piece -- unlike the source book, which simply tells what happened. They chose Henry Paulson (William Hurt), ex-Goldman Sachs CEO turned Treasury Secretary. But the real-life Paulson is no hero.

The film makes a point that Paulson sold all his Goldman stock before becoming Treasury Sec, but fails to point out that he was excused from all taxes on the sale, which saved him upwards of $50 million.

The film also whitewashes Paulson's $150 billion AIG bailout, claiming that AIG owed money to almost everybody in the world. In fact, AIG's largest creditor was, that's right, Goldman Sachs. Paulson failed to negotiate a hard-nosed payout of AIG's obligations, such as offering creditors 50c on the dollar, which the creditors would have had no choice but to accept. This would have saved US taxpayers a cool $75 billion. But it would have hurt Paulson's pals at Goldman.

My point being, Paulson was thoroughly compromised, and managed to feather his own nest and that of his old pals. What next? A stirring depiction of Dick Cheney's altruistic hiring of Halliburton in Iraq? This shortcoming aside, the film clips along nicely, and it's fun to see so many name actors portraying the Wall Street titans. James Woods is a perfect Dick Fuld.
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4/10
Where is the real story?
rubbersoul-18 June 2011
I liked this movie when I first saw it. Entertaining, great performances, and what I thought was a great explanation of the 2008 economic crisis. Then I watched the documentary "Inside Job" and learned the truth. Hank Paulson was not a hero. He started the house on fire to collect his money (deregulation) and then had to scramble to put it out when he realized he was going to burn with it. This movie makes him look like a hero for putting it out. By the way he collected a nice chunk of change by selling his stock with Goldman Sachs to become the Treasury Secretary (mandatory)before the crash. And don't get me wrong, he didn't do it all alone and in no way his he solely responsible, and i'm glad him and Geitner succeeded in keeping our world from falling apart, but this movie rings way too false after you watch the real story in "Inside Job". I won't speculate on Mr. Sorkins (writer) motives, but he and his co-writer are way off on telling the true story of what happened. I still appreciate the performances and direction, but it's like watching a lie now. Sorry, please watch Inside Job narrated by Matt Damon by the way, and see what you think!
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8/10
The Scariest Movie I've Ever Seen
TheEconoclast1 June 2011
I'm not kidding.

This is the scariest movie I've ever seen. But that's just me.

As some who works deep in the world of finance and lost sleep with the rest of Wall Street during that dark and disturbing week, it's possible that I'm a little too close to this story. It hits home. Thankfully, Too Big to Fail opens up a window so that the rest of world can look in from the safety of their living room.

Forget monsters, serial killers, and the nouveau low-budget movement of "two guys in a room with a camera and a ghost."

This is real. This happened. This could happen again.

You'll be terrified to see just how close to the brink we came, how close we were to one of the biggest economic disasters in human history. And you'll be shocked to learn about the types of personalities in which the rest of the planet has invested so much power and authority. Troubling, yes. But it's an important piece of history as well.

In terms of production HBO knocked this one out of the park. That's to be expected, I suppose, when you sign one of the great working American directors in Curtis Hanson and use one of the most highly respected chronicles of the financial crisis as your source material. Andrew Ross Sorkin even has a cameo and gets credit as a consulting producer to make sure they got the facts straight.

So it's no wonder such a brilliant, top shelf cast fell in line. HBO must have had their pick of the litter. The names in this movie are not only eerie facsimiles of their real life counterparts, but these are the actors that can really act.

The ever-dependable William Hurt is admirable in the lead, bring a little humanity to Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, but it's the supporting performances that deserve special praise. Billy Crudup boils with intensity as an anxious, f-bomb dropping Tim Geithner, and Paul Giamatti perfectly captures the essence of Ben Bernanke, that quietly authoritative voice that the biggest egos in the world always shut up and listen to. Viewers at home will get a kick out of Ed Asner as Warren Buffett and, as is always the case with Buffett, his folksy charm serves as a bridge into to the arcane world of high finance. And former Lehman Brothers CEO Dick Fuld is appropriately vilified thanks to James Woods, not for being a greedy fraudster, but for being a sadly out-of- touch executive unable to adjust to a world that changed overnight. Despite Fuld's arrogance and bluster, Woods invests him with a subtle sense of dignity.

Too Big to Fail achieves a rare feat for talky dramas: it sustains acute tension for ninety full minutes, never slowing down and never climaxing prematurely.

Even if you're not a financial insider or policy wonk you'll be on the edge of your seat from start to finish.

Just don't watch it late at night.
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5/10
Sympathy? No
happel31722 March 2012
The movie itself was put together very well following the chronicles of the fiasco that unfolded during the credit crunch. Where it went horribly wrong is by humanizing Hank Paulson. Making him seem vulnerable and genuine and sincere. It has recently been published that Saint Paulson tipped off 20 or so hedge funds about the coming collapse so they could unload their positions. And this film is attempting to portray him as the victim and the hero and laud him with applause for working so diligently on this problem. His colleagues at Goldman cleaned up on the CDS contracts betting on the inevitable crisis they knew was coming. James Woods did a very good job at making Dick Fuld's loathsome character believable, though.
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6/10
Good, but giving the elites too much credit.
croato873 January 2012
This movie is good--one of the best on the financial crisis other than Inside Job. It goes into many of the most interesting details and decisions of the crisis while staying entertaining.

My problem with the film is that it makes it look like the politicians and CEOs involved in the decisions actually cared and got emotional about them. In reality, that is not the case. The decisions which greatly affected the lives of millions of Americans had little, if any, effect on the people who made them--hence the distinguishable apathy in their public appearances. These men and women are among the richest in the world, and they knew they would stay that way regardless of how the crisis played out. They cared about the crisis only to the extent that they needed not be late for their dinner dates.

All animals are equal But some animals are more equal than others.
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1/10
It's full of ****
nikolaskjeldsen2 June 2012
HBO and Peter Gould did a disservice to the American people by stuffing their nose up the ass of Wall Street and the Federal Reserve bank by not even coming close to laying blame where it belongs. The film is almost comical in its representation of Paulsen, Bernanke and Geithner. All three of these clowns are characterized as heroic as they struggle to save the American economy from collapsing. The film is mostly fiction and is clearly an attempt to hide the truth from the American people. I would recommend watching a more truthful depiction of what actually happened, as for example "Inside Job" which is actually a documentary and not a fictional representation. This is all in all, nothing but propaganda.
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8/10
Short and Sweet
After watching hours of news stories about the bank bailouts, I still never fully grasped what was going on - only the most broad outlines of it.

This movie explained it clearly - and, most shockingly, somebody made a movie about banking regulations that was interesting and engrossing.

Excellent cast at the top of their game - and first rate writing and directing. Check this one out!

(Disclaimer: If you need car chases, boobs-and-butts, terrorist bombings, food fights or sex and drugs to enjoy a film, skip this one! It's not going to be up your alley!)
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8/10
"Too Big to Fail" Truly Succeeds
LCRebbe6 June 2011
This HBO produced film gives dialog and a behind-the-scenes feel to the 2008 financial debacle so perfectly exposed in "Inside Job."

The direction by Curtis Hanson is razor-clean cut, and the performances, especially by James Woods, Paul Giamatti and William Hurt underscore the irony that not one of the self-serving "public servants" has "served" one single day of jail time and continue to live their over-the-top, elegant lifestyles.

The effective use of actually news footage from our 24/7 news cycle serve as a percussive soundtrack as we watch the financial worlds of your "off the Street" American citizens self destruct at the hands of the Bush administration.

Thank you HBO for continuing to do what you have done so well for so many years!
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7/10
An all right original film of the economic meltdown, and how government bails them out one by one!
Danny Blankenship30 May 2011
This HBO original film "Too Big to Fail" shows one by one how the major financial companies took a dive one by one all by risky investments with lenders money. And the selling of bad mortgage loans and fake stock lead to the downfall of AIG, Bank of America, Merill Lynch, and Leman Brothers. And sadly as we see in this film as many Americans remember the American tax payer had to bail each out with their tax dollars when the federal government in Washington D.C. decided for it.

Director Curtis Hanson is true to form in this film as it was adapted from Andrew Ross Sorkin's book of the same name. The performances in the film are spot on especially that of William Hurt as treasury secretary Henry Paulson and veteran Paul Giamatti as fed chair Ben Bernanke. Also it was nice seeing James Woods and Cynthia Nixon("Sex and the City")in small roles, plus a delight was Ed Asner as Warren Buffet. This film proved what we all know the big financial companies and government people are tied in together and corrupt and the average Joe foots the bill for their escape as they clearly are "To Big To Fail"
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1/10
sf category
newcomer_hr18 July 2012
If you intend to watch this movie for entertainment purposes - probably you can pick something better than financial meltdown, however if you intend to watch this movie for the purpose of better insight on what really happened - you should skip it and look further.. poor attempt to create superman heroes out of paulson, bernanke and entire banking safeguard crowd. During the movie, i honestly didn't know if i should laugh or cry ..it is honestly sad and tragedy if they sell this material to anyone on this planet as a story of what truly happened. there is a good reason why banking industry calls equity stocks "stock markets retard brother" .. money market is where the money rolls and everyone in the chain is holding the ladder and full control is in place. I am not one of these conspiracy theories type, this has nothing to do with conspiracy - just corruption beyond possibility to comprehend..and turns - sadly out, that even HBO is holding the ladder... Paulson doesn't even has to bother one day to write himself a beautiful perky biography, script of this movies will do just fine ..as if he wrote it..
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2/10
Skip this movie
xyzthedude22 June 2012
Movie is not very revealing. Nothing about what went wrong in the financial crisis is delved into in this movie. Most of the movie re-enacts what the major guys were trying to do while the crisis was unfolding, albeit playing to typical stereotypes- The cool guy who runs JP Morgan chase vs the confused Indian guy who runs an even bigger Citigroup? I also believe some of the worst offenders of this crisis were dealt sympathetically in a way that is unfair to their role in causing the crisis. Also has subtle racism (against say Vikram Pandit), clichés and panders to the viewers. You can skip this movie and see some other ones on financial crisis.
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6/10
Solid HBO Original Film
ayochristian2 June 2011
I want to start off with saying I don't really watch these types of movies where it deals with a lot of politics and such because I find them boring, but this is not the case for "Too Big to Fail." I was highly engrossed and very surprised. Quite a few familiar faces who all do an excellent job. Music score was top-notch; just as thrilling as Dark Knight or Inception's musical score. Cinematography on point. Overall great story based on a major crisis we are still recovering from. I tip my hat to the director and writers.

E D I T: Although this is a good film, it is fiction. The film falsely portrays Henry Paulson as some type of hero when in reality he is not. It's very entertaining for a political thriller but do yourself a favor and watch Inside Job.
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10/10
Accurate Portrayal of our Economic Condition
Richie-67-48585229 May 2011
As a Real Estate Broker watching this movie, I felt all my beliefs on the subject matter of our current economic failings confirmed. The movie connects the dots and portrays accurately how big money is managed by big people. The little guy actually has no say at all and is just along for the ride. One also sees how fragile everything is if it doesn't work properly. One has thoughts of returning to farming and hunting and living in a nice cabin as a sure thing in these uncertain economic, misrepresented times. Also, our friends the Saudis are no where to be found in this movie which desperately searches for bail-out money. Trillions sit in the middle east frozen for fear of assinations if help is offered to USA is this commentors opinion...Excellent movie but no closure because we are still living in the problem....
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Scary all over again, for those of us who wondered if all our investments would vaporize in 2008.
TxMike10 March 2013
Warning: Spoilers
The year 2008 is a distant memory for many things, but for the financial crisis of 2008 it seems just so very recent. This movie, "Too Big To Fail", uses all the real people involved, and likely all the real dialog the filmmakers could dig up. The result is a very realistic, very chilling snapshot of how financial institutions can make or break our economy and our lives.

I am retired, in late 2007 and into 2008 I had a pretty big chunk of my savings in stock market related investments. When the financial markets started falling, then falling more, then almost dropping off a cliff, it was very worrying to think every thing I had spent 30+ years saving up might be worth almost nothing. Seeing this movie gives great insight into what all went on to create the crisis, then to help it level out and eventually start to recover.

Many characters are played by excellent, experienced actors, but the prime focus is William Hurt who does a super job as Henry Paulson , US Secretary of the Treasury. While he had no direct authority to make the large banks take actions that he and his team of specialists thought best, he had a tremendously persuasive position.

After a number of attempts to get a solution, the last desperate act was to get Congress to approve a $700Billion package that would be used as a stimulus, to selected banks, to encourage them to begin lending again. For without lending the economy could not hope to recover.

The news of that caused the stock markets to stabilize, with renewed investor confidence, and set the stage for a recovery. Ironically, the banks did NOT resume lending right away, but it was the news, the promise of better days that sparked the improvement.

The great news is that now 4 1/2 years down the road, the stock markets have reached new historical highs and unemployment continues to drop. There is no guarantee it will continue for long, but at least the indications are that the crisis is behind us.
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A distorted account of a critical disaster
Mac19587 August 2011
Warning: Spoilers
As a financial adviser, I have two very different thoughts on "Too Big to Fail".

First, I was fascinated by the human element - the relationships between decision-makers, the communication, the uncertainty, the failings and doubts we all possess. We all read the headlines, but rarely are we given even the slightest insight about the decision-making processes that affect us all.

Second, and unfortunately, the story is told with such obvious omissions and distortions that it is clear writer Andrew Ross Sorkin not only carries a partisan grudge, but made little attempt to hide that grudge in the script. Just a few examples of many:

1. One clear "villain" of the meltdown was the American consumer - those who willingly purchased homes they quite well knew they couldn't afford, took advantage of 125% refi's to pay off credit cards so that they could run them up again, tapped into their equity for trips, cars, boats and other goodies, etc. Instead, they were clearly portrayed as victims, and the only time a reference is made to them is when the biggest villain in the film, Dick Fuld, is scoffing at them.

2. Legislators Barney Frank and Chris Dodd, who are documented to have made errors in judgment leading up to the crisis, are portrayed as having absolutely nothing to do with it, completely stunned that this was happening - worse, they come off as passionate defenders of the people. Only someone who knows absolutely nothing of this crisis would fall for this. Come on, Mr. Sorkin.

3. Then-SEC Chairman Christopher Cox, the highest-profile Republican in the story, is portrayed as a bumbling, indecisive, oafish fool. If the rest of the film were not so left-leaning, this portrayal may not have been so obvious. Instead, it falls right in line with the rest of the partisan approach.

4. When assistant Michele Davis asks why regulators failed to notice and act upon the blatant problems in the mortgage industry, Hank Paulson sheepishly responds, "because we were making too much money." What?! The federal government failed to do its job because some people were making a lot of money? Wouldn't an indictment of such magnitude warrant a much larger inspection during this movie? Instead, it's just passed off as "greed". Astonishing.

5. Blame for the entire economic meltdown is placed in one place, and one place only: Those Evil Banks. Not one ounce of blame (outside of the ridiculous statement in #4, above) is placed on the massive failure of regulators to do their job; on the consumers who willingly signed on the dotted line, on the bureaucrats from both parties who pushed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to make bad loans in the interest of "fairness."

I could go on. In short, partisan politics (from BOTH sides) have so polluted our everyday culture that it's now impossible to believe anything you hear, read or see. "Too Big To Fail" is a vivid example.

Here's the problem: This film had a chance to teach us critical lessons about the financial meltdown. An accurate approach could have served as a road map for the future, a warning siren to everyone from politicians to Wall Streeters to regular citizens on the dangers of personal greed, of poor political leadership and of the need for more effective regulation of financial markets.

Instead, it's just another political statement disguised as "fact". What a shame.

.
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What did i Just watch !!
dharmesh-ghelani9 October 2012
Frankly this is a movie i.e dramatized, facts manipulated to suit the audience (dumb Americans) If you are looking for some real information behind what happened in 2008 financial meltdown, who is to blame for it? go and watch Inside Job.

If you want to continue to be delusional about the happenings in US, continue to watch such manipulated versions or even news broadcasts by US media.

Well i need to write some fillers as the above review is too short. So what the heck. Watch the movie to celebrate the glorification on the culprits who almost brought down the world financial system to a stand still, making huge profits in the process, including Hank, of course. Movie seems to an attempt by Bush government to save, whatever is left of Bush's image as an administrator.
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8/10
Too Big to Fail and Too Big to Trivialize
Richard Desper29 May 2011
"Too Big to Fail" addresses the subject of modern-day mega corporations whose failure, however deserving, might be of such catastrophic dimensions that it must be avoided, if at all possible, whatever the cost. The subject matter, the US financial crisis of 2008, is profound and enormous, in terms of its shock at the time and continuing consequences, to trivialize. The main characters – William Hurt, Paul Giamatti, for instance – become aware of the distinct possibility of spiraling into a 21st century version of The Great Depression. We are awestruck by such a possibility. The plot forces at work are both economic and political, both having profound influences. Politics? As usual, it is the Art of the Possible. Economics? A very difficult-to-comprehend arena, neither art nor science. The story leads us, step by step, as numerous characters play their role on this stage. The message: How could they have been so stupid? The filmmakers have hit the nail on the head.
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8/10
Yes, Goldman's role glossed over; but Rep. Barney Frank & Sen. Chris Dodd's roles were IGNORED!
kmm1113135 June 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I agree with many about the ease of understanding, especially when TOPHER GRACE w/ Hurt & Crudup simplify it for Cynthia Nixon (a proxy for us, the American people). Though very strong almost throughout the film, the acting and dialog/banter in this scene is well worth the film's viewing!

There is one more glaring omission/defect in the film, besides Goldman-Sachs larger role; writer Andrew Sorkin and director Chris Hansen leave out the (can't call it criminal, can we?) banking oversight roles of Sen. Chris Dodd & Rep. Barney Frank have in the disaster? The film almost depicts them (w/ Spkr Pelosi) as naive heroes! What were Sorkin and Hansen thinking? Hello - CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS and SWEETHEART DEALS to look the other way? Oh sorry, there was no quid-pro-quo...

Anyone else want that beach-front property in Utah?
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3/10
Too Nice to Be Believed
dlpporkchop29 May 2011
This is just like one of those big disaster films from the 1970's, except it's all speculation, just like the high price of gas.

This shows, in name, the who's who of Wall Street at the time of of the biggest financial crisis since the great depression. It's fiction. Sadly it blames the American people for "having a lack of confidence" in the preposterous circumstances of those who pull the strings find themselves in. This obvious and carefully scripted propaganda, for the "heroes" of the enormous investment banks, just shows how the government of the United States (yes, your's and mine) panic and force billions of taxpayer dollars to save the innocent and vulnerable firms who have NO CONNECTION WITH THE FED WHAT-SO-EVER (wink wink, nudge nudge). Example: brushed over with dental floss is Hank Paulson's connection with Goldman Sachs, which received the largest bailout in history and still is the biggest string puller in Washington. Missed from this story is the blatant corruption, the absolute ineptness of the SEC, and the lack of any regulation from Washington.

Paul Giamatti is possibly the only reason to watch this farce since he steals every scene he is in with a subtlety of Lawrence Olivier. It amazes me, when everyone else is screaming "the sky is falling", Paul expresses the message of doom like a soothsayer predicting the end of the world.

Now I can see why Andrew Ross Sorkin wrote this glossy "gee we are innocent of everything" bull the way he did. I wouldn't want to be an outsider with my informants, especially when they pull the strings in Washington and Wall Street. Rock and a hard place anyone?

Bottom line: Who can't believe that Goldman Sachs manipulated and orchestrated the downfall of two of it's biggest rivals while leaving a wake of financial despair and destruction of the middle class?

If you don't, then I have some beach property in Utah I would like to sell you. So do some online research and connect the dots. HBO should have made it non-fiction instead and call it "Conspiracy"...but that was already taken.
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8/10
A movie that did the impossible. Explained the crisis in a way that's understandable & made the gov't the good guy. I say A
Tony Heck7 June 2012
"Wall street has a gambling problem and the government keeps covering their losses. They never learn anything." In 2008 the United States economy began to crumble. Bank after bank began to fail and Lehman Brothers (the 4th largest) was on the ropes. Secretary of Treasury Hank Paulson (Hurt), Federal reserve chairman Ben Bernanke (Giamatti) and New York Fed President Tim Geithner (Crudup) all are working to try and save it. They more they find out the worse it gets and they are left with a decision to save the country or the bank. But the answer isn't as easy as it sounds. I know what your thinking. Another movie about this, hasn't there been enough? Normally I would agree but this one had Paul Giamatti so I had to watch it. This one stands far above the other ones made about the crisis and also is pretty impressive in the way it is presented. This movie made the crisis and the reasons for what was done simple enough for me to understand. Unlike the others this one is about how the government handled it and not the Wall Street CEO's which is why I didn't want to throw stuff at the TV as much. This movie was all the more impressive in the way that it really made the government the good guy in this whole mess and made you side with them. Which is almost impossible to do these days. This to me has been the best movie made about the crisis. Overall, if you watch one movie about the meltdown and the economic crisis make it this one. I recommend this. I say A.
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Outstanding Story
richfallis_kayser26 June 2011
This film dutifully lays blame everywhere. From Reagan to Clinton to Bush Jr. with former Fed Chairman Greenspan also getting a kick in the shins, as well as Bush Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, who yes saved the day but burned a lot of former enemies along the way.

The house of cards that led to the 2008 crash is explained in perfect detail without losing the intelligent viewer (more on that later).

In addition to outstanding writing, the characters are well-played. I even felt for the first time, some sympathy for Mr. Fuld (James Woods), at Leaman Brothers, who really did get screwed, while Mr. Paulson's former employer, Goldman Sachs walked away richer and mightier and more arrogant than ever.

Also, the PR person working for Mr. Paulson, showed what a good PR person does in a crisis management situation. Ask good questions. Tell the truth. Frame the issue.

And without giving away the end, one realizes the whole stinking mess has not been cleaned-up. The can has just been kicked down the road.

To real insiders, the movie may seem lacking in detail for their liking. But frankly for the average ignorant American, this film is too intellectual. Almost half the country still believes the Republican lies and manipulation that got us into this mess. Americans are too stupid to appreciate this pulling away of the rot that is unfettered American capitalism in Too Big To Fail.

Part 2 is coming. Sooner rather than later. Just watch.
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Not Too Petty To Fail
roper1-110-444718 July 2011
You can look at a movie like this two ways: as an accurate representation of the source and as a piece of drama. Too Big To Fail is not too big to fail on both counts.

I should have known to expect with a cast that sports the likes of Ed Asner, but the degree of the left-wing Hollywood spin that they put on the story was stilling annoying. They just can't let go of a chance push their ant-business agenda, even if it means inventing new scenes and even directly contradicting the source book itself. Talking about painting the lilly! Exhibit #1: There was an invented scene about 2/3 of the way through the film apparently designed to explain the roots of the calamity. They throw around terms like CDO and CDS so fast that anyone unfamiliar with the book and the background to the financial crisis would have no clue what they were talking about. They then whitewash the home owners as victims, just poor dupes swindled by the unethical mortgage brokers. In reality, of course, many of these were greedy people living way beyond their means using their houses as piggy banks while many others were pure speculators. We don't hear anything blame about the likes of left wing heroes Barney Frank and Charles Shumer who lit the fuse on the whole mess by demanding that banks make mortgages available to the poor. There is not a word about the Quants whose unrealistic risk models told bankers that such a disaster could never happen. We don't hear about the corruption of the ratings agencies, collapse of the carry trade, etc. No, there is only room for one villain in the Hollywood left villain pantheon – big business CEO's.

Exhibit #2: The ending is another invented scene that is thoroughly misleading. They have Paulson pleading that he hopes that the banks will lend out the TARP money as intended to stimulate the economy. Then there is a prologue saying that the banks didn't. This is pure rubbish. In the book, Sorkin makes it perfectly clear that this was not the purpose of TARP. It was to stabilize the financial world by injecting capital to deleverage the banks and to rebuild investor confidence. The banks could not lend money because it would push their leverage back up. But Hollywood isn't interested in what Sorkin said, if they can take another parting potshot at big business.

Leftwing distortions aside, Too Big To Fail was simply very dull. For a while, it is amusing to see actors who look so much like their real-life counterparts, especially Paul Giamati as a Ben Bernanke clone and Evan Handler's amazing resemblance to Lloyd Blankfeld. But the characters are uniformly dull. Even scene that should be great theater (e. g., Paulson kneeling before Nancy Pelosi) come across a dead and perfunctory. The only breaking in the dullness is James Woods' way over the top portrayal of Dick Fuld. It bordered on comic relief.

The book just didn't work as a movie. The book was a series of vignettes, whose complexity reflected the complexity of the actual crisis. The story lurches from vignette to vignette with not real plot or story developing. Further, the need to boil the book down into typical movie running time also meant that they drastically has to simply and shorten many of the events to the point of losing the real story. The collapse was not the kind of linear event that works on the screen.

In sum, the movie fails as both history and as drama. A much better movie about the financial disaster could have been made from Michael Lewis's highly entertaining "The Big Short," that amusingly tells the story from the viewpoint of a few quirky Wall Street outsiders who saw the collapse coming and the problems that they encountered by running contrary to popular wisdom. It's the same story, but a lot more fun. But there would have been some sympathetic businessmen characters. The Hollywood lefties wouldn't want that.
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8/10
Greed
jotix10023 July 2011
Warning: Spoilers
As we start watching this film, that plays like a documentary, we are given an introduction as to what caused the debacle in the United States economy system prior to the demise of the powerhouse Lehman Brothers. The US economy almost collapse because of the same people that became obscenely rich while the party was going on, were reluctant in fixing the main problem, as well as their responsibility in creating what led to its almost collapse.

Unfortunately, after all was said and done, things remained the same because even though the government, led by then Treasury secretary Henry Paulson, decided to inject cash for the banks to continue lending money to the industries and businesses that depended on it, the little people that did not have the power of the more powerful elite to continue operating were the ones that suffered the most.

On a positive note, the figure of Warren Buffet, the oracle of Omaha, comes out as the most level headed individual of all. He is a humble man when it comes to show off his wealth. In fact, the film shows him as the simple, unassuming person that he is. It is humbling for someone like Hank Paulson to seek advice from this great man that had a clear picture about the excesses the men at the center of the story had committed.

Curtis Hanson directed the HBO film, based on a novel of Andrew Ross Sorkin, with a screenplay by Peter Gould. The high financing world is examined by the filmmakers, trying to make sense about the fateful year of 2008. The best thing they achieved was the almost perfect match in the casting to play on the screen the principals involved in the story. The film requires a certain knowledge to follow the intricacies of that world, something that is not easily grasped by the general public.

William Hurt shines as Hank Paulson, the man at the center of the storm. We watch him walking up Seventh Avenue in Manhattan looking at what was Lehman Brothers' headquarters. Others in the film are Billy Crudup as Timothy Geithner. Paul Giamatti playing the bearded, and somber, Ben Bernanke. As Paulson's Treasury team there are wonderful performances by Cinthia Nixon, Joey Slotnick, Topher Grace and Ayan Akhtar. Almost all the other actors have only limited time in front of the camera, but their collective effort is notable.
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8/10
simplified but still nauseating story of the big bank bailout
blanche-26 December 2013
"Let's see," says PR person Michele Davis, played by Cynthia Nixon, "we can't put any more restrictions on the way the banks are going to spend the $125 billion we're giving them, because they might not TAKE it?" Yeah, Michele, if you tell them they can't pay big fat bonuses with it and fund golden parachutes, they won't take it.

We all know that the banks were bailed out, and "Too Big To Fail" purports to tell us the real story. It doesn't because in order for it to be a movie, there have to be good guys and bad guys. Since it was all bad guys, it's a little skewered.

The good guy of the piece is that hard-working Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Paulson, beautifully portrayed by William Hurt. In the story, Paulson nearly has a nervous breakdown trying to save the world economy after investment companies start going bankrupt.

It's pointed out that Paulson has no conflict of interest even though he used to run Goldman Sachs because he dumped his stock in the company. That's true. Not mentioned was that for some reason he didn't have to pay any taxes on the sale, something like $50 million.

Then we get to the let's bail out AIG because they're in bed with everybody. Yeah. Their big creditor was Goldman Sachs. Paulson cheated the taxpayers out of $75 billion because, in order for Goldman to get all their money, he didn't negotiate the bailout.

He's the big hero, the one whose wife (Kathy Baker) tells him he's taking on too much. So you can imagine what the rest of this movie was like when we got down to the real bad guys, the banks.

Many people in the film ask, why didn't anyone see this coming? I have some other questions. Why didn't anyone know Bernie Madoff was a crook? Why didn't anyone know banks were lending money to dummy corporations at Enron? Paulson gives us the answer, "They were all making too much money, so nobody asked." The thieves, liars, guys with their heads in the sand, helpers, and pacifiers were played by a wonderful cast: John Hurd, James Wood, Billy Crudupp, Tony Shalhoub, Paul Giamatti, Cynthia Nixon, and Ed Asner. Asner played Warren Buffett, the only one with any money. As Ben Bernanke, Paul Giametti gives another standout performance.

Curtis Hanson did a brilliant job of directing -- one felt the tension and suspense every step of the way.

On a final note, the banks were given money so they could loan it out. Instead, they loaned out less. Their bonuses reached a peak in 2010, the highest amounts ever. Mattresses are looking better and better.
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6/10
*** Spoiler Alert **** The Economy Stays In Trouble
mabbott1012 June 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Finally watched this and I have to say - not overly impressed. While the actual story of the Crash of 2008 (and when are we going to start calling it that?) is too long for a two hour movie but, this film drops some major turning points that contributed to the meltdown. The writing tries to make the issues understandable, sometimes at the expense of characters (like when the Treasury Secretary's staff explain to their communications director how the mortgage meltdown happened . . . really? An senior employee of the Treasury Department has to have this explained to her after working through the crisis for months?). However, the film does not try to hide some colossal and often tragic mistakes by the main characters. Hurt is good as Paulson but, the best performance has to be Paul Giamatti as Ben Bernanke. I also enjoyed how the film showed the top CEOs for the spoiled divas that they are. This is a good starter if you want to get a grasp on what happened but, there are much better source materials such as "Inside Job" and Matt Taibbi's book - Griftopia.
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