"Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review

1/04/2011 Posted by Admin

"Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps"

DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review

Directed by Oliver Stone, written by Allen Loeb and Stephen Schiff, 130 minutes, rated PG-13.

By Christopher Smith

It's that rare movie that commands an iconic line, something that is so prescient and nails the culture to its core, it not only defines it, but it wedges itself into pop-culture lore. So it was in 1987 when Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) spoke the words that would define a period and a generation: "Greed is good."

Unfortunately, a lot of people took that to heart. And now, 23 years later, we apparently have left the throes of a devastating recession (at least that's what economists are saying) and come to the other side in "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps," which just was released on DVD and Blu-ray disc.

Once again, Oliver Stone directs, this time from Allen Loeb and Stephen Schiff's script. The movie they created is brisk and entertaining, but also peppered with shallow insights and canned redemption. It never surpasses its predecessor. And there's the sense that Stone knew he'd fail if he tried. So, what do we have here? A scattered, heavy-handed movie that's so ripe, it occasionally bursts.

The film features Douglas' return as Gekko, and he's the best part of the movie, overshadowing everyone around him. He owns this role. He understands this might offer him the comeback his career needs (provided he beats his current battle with throat cancer), and so he goes for it, which gives the movie the seething spark it needs to counter Stone's rampant preaching about the past.

Recently released from prison for money laundering, racketeering and fraud, Gekko is a mystery to be solved. Who is he now? What are his motivations? After all these years in prison (the film begins with his release in 2001 and then quickly takes place in the financial nightmare that was 2008), is he a reformed man? Or has he spent his time paying attention to the market and learning how to manipulate the bubble now.

His daughter Winnie (Carey Mulligan, wholly underused) is convinced he can't be trusted--she shields herself from him. But as for Jake Moore (Shiah LaBeouf), who plans to marry Winnie, he's not quite sure. There's something about Gekko that appeals to him, which leads to all sorts of turmoil best left for the screen. What can be said is that the introduction of Josh Brolin's Bretton James, a slimy investor banker, leaves something to be desired. He's here to play the villain, which allows Stone the chance to stockpile his character with depth and intrigue. Instead, we get cliches, which Brolin's catcher's mitt of a face tries to absorb and sometimes succeeds.

In the end, "Money Never Sleeps" is a mixed bag of the good and the awful. Every performer goes for it here, including rich cameos by Susan Sarandon and Frank Langella. But the pacing is off. The movie is an overstuffed pinata. And the ending is so drunk on clotted ribbons of sentiment, they form a noose. Still, while uneven, the movie does have energy and a few scenes do shine, such as when Gekko and Jake form an agreement to help each other out. Jake will receive trading tips from Gekko, but to get them, he will need to help Gekko win back his daughter.

The lot of it is pure melodrama, but as any fan of melodrama knows, if you have a talented cast willing to throw themselves headfirst into the cinematic blender, that melodrama can be as captivating as it is cheap.

Grade: B-

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