"Wall Street" DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review

9/27/2010 Posted by Admin

"Wall Street"

DVD, Blu-ray Review

Directed by Oliver Stone, Written by Stone and Stanley Weiser, 126 Minutes, Rated R

By our guest blogger, Rob Stammitti

Typically, there are two Oliver Stones--the one who makes films like "JFK" and "Nixon," epic-scale character studies steeped in surrealism, ensemble casts, and fascinating takes on political and social theory. Then there's the Stone who makes films like "Platoon" and "Wall Street." Though "Wall Street" certainly has merit as a study of American greed and as a showcase for Michael Douglas, I'll take the former Stone any day.

Charlie Sheen does his best (which isn't much) as Bud Fox, an aspiring stockbroker who's desperate to win the approval of Wall Street legend Gordon Gekko (Douglas, spellbinding from the moment he hits the screen). He miraculously wins the confidence of the sinister businessman when he begins gathering inside info on his British counterpart, Sir Lawrence Wildman (Terence Stamp). Soon, Bud finds himself engrossed in Gekko's world, watching as he ruthlessly buys up businesses and topples them over for an easy buck, including the airport for which Bud's hardworking father, Carl (Charlie's actual father, Martin Sheen), acts as a head mechanic.

Like the protagonists in most of Stone's work, Fox is at a constant struggle to succeed while maintaining his moral ground. But the glamour of Gekko's lifestyle sucks him in and he soon finds himself on a quick path to self-destruction.

Stone's fascination with character studies such as this is often overshadowed by his political and social messages. This is one area where "Wall Street" definitely succeeds--because the overlying themes of greed and the corruption of capitalism are more universal than those he explores in "Nixon" or "JFK," he's able to keep his message at the forefront without sacrificing the story he's telling about Fox. That said, the film ultimately works less as a character study solely because Sheen, despite being the center of the movie, lacks any of the necessary power that his supporters have in spades.

But what the film is famous for, with good reason, is Gekko. If there's anything Stone knows, it's villains--the multitude of crooks in "JFK" and "Nixon" alone could top a list of the best, but Gordon Gekko definitely takes the cake. Douglas gives his all here, and though his screentime is relatively slight for who's ultimately the catalyst for everything in the film, his presence is felt in every frame. His numerous monologues regarding economics, capitalism, war, and, of course, greed, bring a palpable energy to the film that's otherwise severely lacking when the focus is only on Fox. And, of course, the Gekko's claim to fame, the "Greed is Good" speech, is one of the finest monologues out there--sometimes so convincing, despite its cruelty, that it's scary. That said, Douglas is nearly matched by the elder Sheen, who is quite firey himself as Fox's deeply moral father.

It's a shame, really, that the film, even with its sharp dialogue and solid message, couldn't rise to the level of its best character, but it is a generally enjoyable effort, and if the fact that now a (far inferior) sequel exists is any indication, the film is just as important in our current age of excess as it was upon its release.

Grade: B-

  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Technorati
  • Facebook
  • TwitThis
  • MySpace
  • LinkedIn
  • Live
  • Google
  • Reddit
  • Sphinn
  • Propeller
  • Slashdot
  • Netvibes