Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

I have never seen the original Wall Street film, though I have heard good things, and so was a little worried that I wouldn’t understand all the references. Fear not, for as long as you know that Michael Douglas said “Greed is good” you will be fine (unless I missed something!).

This is a film about how everyone on Wall Street is horrible, that somewhat shoots itself in the foot from the very beginning by making the main character they want you to empathise with, someone from Wall Street. In my opinion actually they first made the mistake of making that someone Shia Le Beouf. How does he keep getting jobs? In WS:MNS Shia plays an arrogant, money driven, ambitious young trader with some morals, though this generally means he’s much the same as he was in Transformers or Indiana Jones, but this time he has to wear a suit.

The film spends quite a lot of its time showing you some of the nasty side of Wall Street, though strangely, everyone Shia knows is actually really nice and caring and the bosses, apart from his one, are all pantomime villains. There are some good scenes in this to be fair, particularly the meetings between bankers and government over the bail-out, but the longer the film goes on the more caricatured the “baddy” becomes and the more you realise the trailer was very selective in showing the more action and anger based clips rather than the meetings.

Spoiler Alert!

The film’s major weakness was the ending. It was awful, one of the worst I’ve seen in ages. A happily ever after that fixed absolutely everything possible, was overly saccharine and didn’t fit the film. The villain of the piece is exposed, the romance is back on, his fiance’s business is suddenly taking off, her wayward father and his wayward mother both suddenly realise the errors of their ways and successfully get their lives back on track and are shown getting along wonderfully together at their grandson’s 1st birthday party, at which all of Shia’s former colleagues from throughout the film are suddenly really happy, playing with young children and laughing and joking with each other, which seemed odd given they were investment bankers and traders in a recession, from rival companies who had hated each other and were in danger of losing their jobs.

All of this good cheer seemed particularly bizarre given that all the top bankers (bar the one who crossed Shia who ended up in jail) were still in charge. The back stabbing crooks, who the film had made a real effort to show had basically ruined the whole country, were still controlling the banks. Obviously necessary really as this part at least is “inspired by real events” but then why have a ending so happy even Disney would be ashamed?

This film felt a bit of a mess, like it was unsure what it wanted to be. A story about the power and love of family, a documentary about power hungry bankers, a tale of redemption or an episode of Scooby-Doo. These don’t make for comfortable bed-fellows and while I wasn’t actually bored I didn’t really care. When Frank Langella’s character died, so did my interest in this film. Sadly that was less than 30 minutes in.


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