Sunday, September 26, 2010

Wall Street 2 movie was so-so

I was really looking forward to see the new Wall Street 2 movie ("Money Never Sleeps") and although it had quite a few good moments, overall it just wasn't as satisfying as I had hoped. Despite the severity of the recent financial crisis, the movie just didn't have the visceral punch that I though Oliver Stone would bring to this encore.

Michael Douglas was great, but he was great in the original, so no new ground was broken there. "Jake" as his nominal protégé was okay, but not great. His girlfriend, Gordon's daughter was... well... pathetic (or more charitably I could say that this was great acting to portray a pathetic character) but maybe that was intentional to forcefully illustrate how "toxic" the cretins of Wall Street really are.

The ending was quite lame, but maybe given the current cultural context Mr. Stone felt obligated not to leave people in a state of complete despair. That would be bad for ticket sales.

On the positive side, the acting of Frank Langella and Eli Wallach as aging investment bankers was absolutely fantastic.

As I noted, there were plenty of great individual scenes and lines such as you saw in the two trailers.

Maybe the bottom line is that Mr. Stone did in fact portray the culture of Wall Street and its denizens as being irredeemably "toxic", although his lame ending inscrutably seemed to let them off the hook and even excuse illegal activity.

There were a few scenes that reminded me of Wall Street activity that I hope the so-called Volcker Rule will eliminate or at least dramatically reduce, but only time will tell.

Maybe that is ultimately the fatal flaw with this movie: there is too much in it that is borderline documentary and cuts painfully too close to the bone. At the end of the credits it reminds us that it is a work of fiction and that similarities to real people and places is... "unintentional." Yeah, right. Sure, they changed the names of the investment banks, but we all know who they were talking about.

-- Jack Krupansky


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