After 23 years we finally have a sequel to the iconic “Wall Street”, a movie very much part of the times it both portrayed and so effectively skewered – “Greed is Good”.
Earning Michael Douglas an Oscar for his portrayal of “Gordon Gekko” an amalgamation of everything that was wrong with Corporate America at the time.
Of course history has shown that humans tend to learn nothing and history often repeats itself. With a Global meltdown of unprecedented scale in 2009, the timing could not be better for another clash of of good and evil played out against the backdrop of Wall Street. Perhaps supplemented with informative background on what the hell actually happened, so that the average Joe might better understand where his bail out tax dollars went.
Who better then to provide this than the original director, no shrinking violet, Oliver Stone and the returning Michael Douglas.
So we are set for an insightful, entertaining, possibly scathing indictment of the Wall Street’s recent excesses and bail out. After all, there is so much material for illustrating the inequity of what has and is occurring, it has accounted for many books and documentaries already.
Unfortunately, whilst superficially glossy, the film is structurally a bit of a mess.
The actors are not to blame, Carey Mulligan continues to remind us why she is going to be a star, if she is not already. La Beouf admittedly is rather bland, Douglas reprises his role, minus all of the best one liners and the supporting cast including Josh Brolin, Frank Langella and Susan Sarandon all do fine work.
The blame must lie with the screenwriters who appear to have little idea what message they wish to convey. All pretence of the film being about the crisis is dropped half way through and the film resorts to pure melodrama. Characters intentions are unclear, the story makes little sense and is actually quite difficult to follow.
Stone must also shoulder responsibility, there are dubious directing flourishes that detract rather than add, pacing is poor, dialogue weak and it is impossible to care for the characters. A directors cameo and “for old times sake” appearance, are also misjudged. The direction is leaden, muddled and the metaphors piled on, there is just no substance to the film as a whole.
The “plot on the back of a matchbox”, concerns Gordon being released after eight years in jail with nothing but a book deal to keep the wolf from the door. Meanwhile his daughter (Mulligan), the very antithesis of him, is ironically in love with an ambitious young stockbroker (La Beouf).
Will Gordon help them, has he learned his lesson, is he really human after all?
What follows involves lots of numbers, double dealings, characters acting apparently in or out of character, a bit of Green Eco speak to update the story, plot turns that make no sense and a denouement so weak, you may be surprised to see the credits start to roll.
Very disappointing and a real opportunity missed. Strange, that bearing in mind this is the man who made “JFK”, “Platoon” and “Born on the Fourth of July”, there is no anger here.
If there was ever a time to be angry, recent events would certainly provide a perfect excuse.
Difficult to recommend other than to those in love with Carey Mulligan or die hard Michael Douglas fans.
Watch the documentary “The Inside Job” instead