07 October 2010

Wall Street 2 Movie Review: "Shedding light on the darkness of greed"*

So, himself and myself watched the Wall Street sequel last night, at the Santry Omniplex.

Now, let me start by pointing out that this is my first film review. So please bear with me as I attempt to walk the fine line between ‘not totally spoiling the movie by giving it all away’, and also ‘providing enough detail so that this actually makes a modicum of sense’. It’s tricksy, I tells ya.

But not as tricksy as one Mr. Gordon Gekko. (See what I did there?)

Quite simply, Michael Douglas is brilliant. Thrillingly reptilian, disarmingly charismatic and utterly manipulative, Gekko totally steals the show. He’s the best thing about this movie, hands down -- though the two fine young things are very easy on the eye. I was a bit ambivalent about both Shia LeBeouf and Carey Mulligan’s cropped hair previously, but I enjoyed looking at them both for the duration of the film’s 132 minutes last night.

Their characters though? Completely unrealistic. Shia plays Jake, a wide eyed, crazy-clever innocent who is also a Wall Street Banker. And Carey is Winnie Gekko, a liberal blogger who hates the corrupting power of her daddy and money and Wall Street so much that she…erm…falls for a Wall Street guy with wads of cash.

I mean, really.

So the plot, in a nutshell, is this: Jake works for investment bank Keller Zabel (aka Lehman Brothers’). Rumours are spread and the bank goes down. Jake goes after the bad guy, Bretton James, who heads up rival bank Churchill Schwartz (aka Goldman Sachs). Said bad guy also assisted in putting Gekko away for 8 years. So Gekko helps Jake, and Jake helps Gekko - by trying to reconcile him with his daughter, and Jake’s fiance, Winnie. Running alongside all this is a very obvious ‘alternative energy will save the world’ message. Oh, and the fabulous Susan Sarandon has a small part as Jake’s mother, too.

And then there’s the banking stuff. Obviously this is all set against the backdrop of the world’s financial meltdown, which gives a sense of immediacy and relevance to the film. It’s interesting to look behind the scenes and get a little insider knowledge as to what actually went down.

Except it was clear as mud, really.

The finance stuff went totally over my head - and before you make any assumptions, it also confused himself, who is currently studying the topic. We could follow the general gist though – here’s yer man going around pulling a bit of a fast one to get back at yer other man, and using a lot of jargon in the process. And we got the very obvious references, like the collapse of Lehman Brothers’. But the rest of it falls a little wide of the mark, and by the end of the film, you’re no more clued in than you were walking in to it.

Some of the other stuff didn’t stack up for me, either. Like the $10,000-a-seat dinner scene where the camera lingers on these aging ladies gigonormous bejewelled, bedazzling ear-rings. Such ostentatious shows of wealth, and yet so many wrinkles. They may have intended us to equate decline/decay with wealth/corruption and yet - have these mega-rich women really never heard of botox?!

There was also the rather sexist monologue from Mr. Douglas as he enlightens our beefyboy on the feminine nature of money: "Money's the bitch that never sleeps. And she's jealous!” Though this fits nicely alongside such other scenes of macho posturing as the tough-guy motorbike race and Charlie Sheen's cameo -- with a girl on each arm.

But here, lookit, all of this aside: I liked this film. I enjoyed watching it and thought it particularly good on the big screen. There are some great actors involved and they deliver solid and intense performances. I loved the shots of the New York and London skylines and, as I said, I enjoyed watching Carey’s hair.

Ultimately, I think this is a story about faith. There is a scene where Jake/Shia says to Winnie/Carey something along the lines of, “People like you and me, we want to be lied to. We want the bedtime story.”

Gekko’s corrupting influence causes these bright eyed young idealists to lose their faith in themselves, each other and the world, but by the end of the film their faith is renewed, and there’s a big fat happy unrealistic ending.

I enjoyed it. It just didn’t add up or make any sense. But that’s ok, because right now there is quite enough realism in my life.

I guess we all want the bedtime story.

Photo credit: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps movie poster

*Post title: Lyric from Rage Against The Machine, ‘Darkness of Greed’

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