Director: Oliver Stone
Screenplay: Alan Loeb, Stephen Schiff
Producer: Eric Kopeloff, Edward R. Pressman, Oliver Stone
Starring: Michael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf, Josh Brolin, Carey Mulligan
BBFC Certification: 18
Duration: 133 min
Here’s the rare sequel that’s neither action nor horror but still follows the usual outcome: disappointingly bland. Don’t blame the original film’s star, Michael Douglas returns 23 years later to the iconic role that won him an Oscar and made “Greed is Good” the mantra for every new stockbroker a generation since. Douglas glides into the role effortlessly after all these years but this time around director Oliver Stone has neutered the once fiery Gordon Gekko. In fact, What Is wrong with this film is that Stone has no real message to convey, squandering the timely issue of the Great Recession and therefore neutering the whole film.
Oliver Stone seems to have had nothing to say for the last few years or so. With such tame flicks lately as “Alexander”, “W.” (where Stone seemingly let Dubya off the hook) and now with “Money Never Sleeps” it appears Stone has embraced the calmer life, sitting back in his rocking chair, whittling wood, and drinking a mellow yellow. I want Stone to be the crotchety old dude who is angry at the young for being young, hitting them in the back of the head with his can. But nooooo, by the time Oliver Stone concludes this Wall Street, literally with a bubbly ending that floats to the heavens, it has you slipping out of your theater seat in disappointment.
This time around the young Bud Fox, played by Charlie Sheen in the original (who makes a cameo here which is good for a smile but ultimately just serves as a distracting wink to its superior predecessor), is replaced with the young financial whiz kid Jake Moore (Shia LeBeouf). The film reaches its dramatic peak very early on when Jake’s mentor Louis Zabel (Frank Langella) jumps in front of a subway train after his rival Bretton James (Josh Brolin) caused the demise of Zabels’ firm . This sets Jake on an old school revenge course with the help of Gekko, who just so happens to be the father of his fiancé, Winnie Gekko (Carey Mulligan).
Stone, along with Allen Loeb’s script, barrages us with montages and dialogue about Dow Jones numbers/bubbles/moral hazard/Churchill/killing stocks and such that go way over most viewer’s heads but then the human issues don’t reach our hearts. Why does Winnie, who despises everything her father stands for, end up with a stockbroker? Let’s explore those daddy issues shall we? Admittedly, I don’t know squat about financial squat (obviously, look at my checking account) but Stone uses befuddling shot choices of superimposed financial graphics and a weak “green” stock subplot does very little to reign my attention in on what could have been a smouldering satire on how if we don’t learn from history we are doomed to repeat it.
Was it a joy to see Douglas return as Gordon Gekko? Yes. And that went a long way but not nearly enough for the price of admission. In the end, it’s this film’s stock that plummets.