“Lee Gates” (George Clooney) is a Financial TV host in New York, he fronts a razzmatazz show that features dancing girls, garish graphics and stock picks in equal measure.
Lee is glib, superficial, wealthy and very annoying. His long serving TV crew put up with him because he is kinda fun and hell, it’s a job. Although his producer “Patty Fenn” (Julian Roberts) has clearly had enough and wants out but for now, the show must go on.
The on-screen hi-jinks are somewhat interrupted when a gunman bursts onto set (Jack O’Connell) threatening to not only shoot Lee in the head but also blow everyone up for good measure. In the modern world this is a ratings winner if conducted live, that is what is demanded and facilitated with only a modicum of resistance.
These are not spoilers, all of the above is in the trailer and more. The premise is interesting, disgruntled investor led on by a clownish showman only for everything to turn pear shaped, the only avenue of redress in this uncaring corporate world is a final desperate measure.
However, what could have been an intelligent glimpse at the complexities involved and motivations for all characters turns into a cartoonish, simplistic and frankly badly made film. Both Roberts and Clooney need a decent box office return to restore their movie star lustre, this is not that movie.
To be fair, all the characterisations are poorly drawn but neither Clooney or Roberts help themselves here with poor performances. Clooney in particular never looks particularly concerned he might get his brains blown out on live TV. The only creditable performance comes from O’Connell who at least presents a vaguely relatable character.
The film is uneven and with some scenes that are preposterous, notably a walk with police protection down a Manhattan street. Quite what director Jodie Foster was thinking at this point is difficult to understand. Sure the film does nicely subvert some of the usual movie tropes. Loving girlfriend and a call to arms to rescue one human being but again, these changes of pace are not used, they just fall flat.
It comes to something when arguably the most interesting character on the screen is “Lenny The Cameraman” (Lenny Levito). Our nominal bad guy “Walt Camby” (Dominic West) should be chewing scenery but is barely used and his nominee Diane Lester (Catriona Balfe) is bland and unbelievable.
If this is a diatribe at the state of the financial world prior to Trump, then there clearly is a better film to be made once regulations are ‘de-emphasised”. Let’s hope none of the people involved here are around for the inevitable reboot/re-imagining
Despite a great cast and ripped from the headlines worthy premise, this represents a major disappointment.
Not a recommended use of your spare time, maybe watch Bloomberg TV for 90 minutes instead.