Saturday, September 25, 2010

Box Office Review – Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

In 1987 Gordon Gekko said "greed is good". Now in 2010 he is back, but this time he is asking "is greed good".

Director Oliver Stone returns to direct the sequel to his film Wall Street, he brings along original cast members Michael Douglas as the aforementioned Grodon Gekko, and Charlie Sheen who has a small cameo as his character Bud Fox. Wall Street 2 takes place in 2008 and it focuses on a new character named Jake Moore who is played by Shia Labeouf. He is a young trader who is dating Gekko's daughter Winnie, played by Carey Mulligan. Things seem to be going all right for Jake, until the beginning signs of the recession start to occur. Things get worse and worse for Jake and as a result he turns to Winnie's estranged father Gordon for help. Deception and backstabbing soon follow. Wall Street 2 has a few things wrong with it, mainly stylistically, but overall the movie is an enjoyable watch.

This enjoyment comes entirely from the performances given in the film. Michael Douglas slips effortlessly back into the role of Gekko and he seems to revel in the fact that he gets to inhabit the character again. As for Shia Labeouf, he actually gives some depth and range to his character. I know you are probably surprised by that statement, but this is easily his best performance to date. I have always felt that he plays the same character whether fighting giant robots, or having daddy issues while searching for the crystal skulls, but in Wall Street 2 he actually inhabits his character very well. The rest of the stacked cast, are also great. Carey Mulligan proves once again why she is one of the most promising actresses working today. She stands toe to toe with Michael Douglas in every scene she has with him and does not back down. Their scenes together are the best in the film. Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon, Eli Wallach, and Josh Brolin all give performances on par with their great talent.

While Oliver Stone succeeded in directing the many actors in the film he really dropped the ball when it came to style choices in the film. There are multiple animation scenes in the movie that are out of place and poorly done. These scenes are meant to convey information that is too complicated to work into the story, so I say leave them out. I don't need fusion as a power resource explained to me in a film like this, especially when it's done with such cheesy animation. Another problem I had was the use of superimposing in the film. It is used once during a car ride and it looked terrible. Another time it is used as a kind of flashback/memory thing and I almost laughed out loud. It is unfortunate that Stone indulged himself stylistically, because the cinematography by Rodrigo Prieto is great.

23 years is a major gap between a film and its sequel. Oliver Stone is a much different director than he was in the 80s and early 90s. The original Wall Street was all about greed and excess and looking back on that film it is very dated. Wall Street 2 shows that aside from clothing style and massive cell phones, not much has changed. People are still as greedy and excessive as they have ever been. It is interesting to think that Wall Street 2 itself indulges in excess when it comes to stylistic choices. I guess that just shows that everyone is guilty of excess in some form or another. The original Wall Street is an enjoyable movie, but in no way is it a great film. The same can be said about the sequel. It is good for what it is and in my opinion it is a worthy sequel.

A Good Banana

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