Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010) Directed by Oliver Stone. With Shia LaBeouf, Michael Douglas, Carey Mulligan and Frank Langella.
Never had the timing of a film felt quite so right. The financial crisis of 2009 was felt far and wide. Everyone seemed to have a name for it. Terms like “financial squeeze” and “credit crunch” became everyday terms in communities across the globe. Put Oliver Stone in the directors chair and have Michael Douglas back as boardroom ‘Terminator’ Gordon Gekko, and you’ve got one of the must-see films of the year. Right!? Wrong. It’s awful.
It’s hard to believe it could fail so miserably. The stage had been perfectly set for a tale that might not only compliment the original film, but one that due to the social and political climate it was released in, could resonate as far and wide as the ‘credit crunch’ itself. Sadly, Stone and his writers Allan Loeb and Stephen Schiff seem more preoccupied with fixing their attention on the family woes of Gordon Gekko and his daughter (Carey Mulligan), with Shia LaBeouf playing a rookie in the vein of Charlie Sheen’s ‘Bud Fox’ from the first film. Moreover, none of it is written any better than your average daytime soap opera.
Although LaBeouf offers little in terms of presence, wit or charisma, we have come to expect this of him. The real disappointment is how lukewarm Michael Douglas’ ‘Gekko’ is. This is like a gluten-free Gekko. All his edges have been knocked off, and what’s left is a sad, lonely man desperately trying to re-connect with his daughter. It isn’t really what we came to see.
There is a very welcome, but all-too-brief cameo that serves to highlight how dull this sequel is. Perhaps if the writers insisted on focusing on the melodrama of character relationships, rather than an incisive plot that took a stab at the irresponsible behaviour of investment bankers, then including some of the main players from the ’87 film might have been a better move. Instead, they produce a baggy script that says nothing much about anything; taking 133mins to do it.
Even with his name all over the marketing campaign. it’s hard to believe that Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is an Oliver Stone film. It’s frequently dull and wasteful of its excellent cast, with a script that never gets out of first gear. It surely must go down as one of the biggest disappointments of 2010. Money might never sleep, but on this evidence, the audience probably will. 2/5