In the real-time, high stakes thriller Money Monster, George Clooney and Julia Roberts star as financial TV host Lee Gates and his producer Patty, who are put in an extreme situation when an irate investor who has lost everything (Jack O'Connell) forcefully takes over their studio. During a tense standoff broadcast to millions on live TV, Lee and Patty must work furiously against the clock to unravel the mystery behind a conspiracy at the heart of today's fast-paced, high-tech global markets.Written by
Sony Pictures Entertainment
The screenplay for this film was featured in the 2014 Blacklist, a list of the "most liked" unmade scripts of the year. See more »
The stock ticker under the televised scenes shows only a small loss on the Dow the entire time. Any attack on the financial media would provoke a strong selloff, at least until investors figured out they weren't the next terrorist target. See more »
Okay, here we go. Are you listening? Are you paying attention out there? Good. Because it's about to get complicated, so I'm gonna start out slow and make it nice and simple for you. You don't have a *clue* where your money is. See, once upon a time, you could walk into your bank, and they'd open a vault and point to a gold brick. Not anymore. Your money - that thing that you bust your ass for - it's nothing more than a few photons of energy traveling through a massive network of ...
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A perfectly fine middle-budget thriller with enough on its mind.
There are a couple of things to note right up front about Money Monster, the first film directed by Jodie Foster in quite some time and reuniting Clooney and Roberts (remember them from the Ocean's Eleven flicks? or, you know, the two they were in together? good times) - first, I think it's important that if you do decide to go see this movie, see it in a theater (I'd say a matinée price works best, maybe not quite full price). It's the kind of movie that Lynda Obst has outlined in her book 'Sleepless in Hollywood' as being as something of an endangered species: the middle budget Hollywood genre movie with some big name stars and a plot that's appealing to a mass audience (so it's not quite an "indie" movie, but it's not something that crosses 100 million with elaborate special effects).
Though these movies became a bit tiring (or more than a bit depending on who you are) by the early 00's, in the landscape where there's either comic book movies (Marvel, DC, etc) or comic book movies in look and tone as franchises (Fast & Furious, Hunger Games, etc), a story like this where a guy holds a Jim Kramer type of cable 'news' personality and his crew hostage on live TV seems almost refreshing, at least as far as being something that's only pretense is that, you know, the economy collapsed not too long ago and confidence in things like the stock market should suck (though it seemed to have rebounded not too soon after 2008), and it's made professionally.
The other thing to note here is that just because it's a highly entertaining dramatic thriller as far as the nuts-and-bolts of such a thing are put together - the actors are just right, with Roberts being the anchor for things to not get out of control as the director of the show, and even small players like Dominic West as the CEO of the company that (seemingly) screwed over Jack O'Connell's gun-and-bomb toting show hijacker, and Clooney's Clooney so that's good - it doesn't meant there aren't flaws.
You've seen this before if you've seen, I don't know, Dog Day Afternoon or John Q (the latter's lessor than this but you may get an idea, the "Just hostage-taker" scenario), and even Inside Man, which featured Foster in a supporting role. Things to do with logic like the amount of security that should/would be in an area where a major cable show is being produced, or how the whole last third unfolds (and if you've seen the trailer, and it's hard to avoid it if you've been to the movies in the past few months, it shows you this section in pieces so you anticipate it) is implausible.
But there's a lot of good drama to mine here, and buried underneath its quick and fast-paced plot mechanics it does have something to say about not just how the American people continually get duped into things like going for stocks (or at least the ones who can afford it or try to like O'Connell's working class character), but the power of celebrity. There's a wonderful little scene where Clooney's Lee Gates tries to dissuade this bomb-that's-going-to-go-off scenario by talking to the tens of millions (I should think more, depending on who has cable around the world, but I digress) and appeals to them to contribute money so that the stock can bulk up for the company that screwed over O'Connell's character. It's the kind of performance where it feels like a performance, but in a good way: it's self-knowing and Clooney plays up to it, and when the outcome of this happens (and it's not pleasant) the emphasis on this whole 'image' that Lee Gates has perpetuated comes back to bite him in the ass.
So there's a lot of little sections that work and good character actors sprinkled throughout (Esposito, Jim Warden, John Ventimiglia), and it all boosts up what is fairly conventional and yet everything is there for the drama of this type of movie. Its even funny, in a bleak, sardonic sort of way, in a few moments (and one that's kind of weak, let's say it involves a sort of cream for your area that's, oh nevermind). I wish it was a little more strong with certain story details, but it's comforting in a way even as character yell and curse and stand-offs happen and rise and fall. Put it another way, if you want a less 'cluttered' take on stock fraud than The Big Short, look here, and if you want to spend some time away and to watch something with a few good Hollywood superstars, it's good on that end.
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