Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

**1/2

 

You can hardly turn on the television these days without being reminded that the economy is bad.

And though I’m certainly not going to argue that everything is going great, it is worth noting that we have come a long way since the crash of 2008.

2008 was pretty scary. The mortgage bubble burst. Stock prices plummeted. Major financial institutions were going bankrupt and closing their doors forever.

Panic was in the air. Was it 1929? Was it Rome, 476?

Happily, it wasn’t the end of the world after all. But ’08 WAS pretty awful. And based on the current 10% unemployment rate, the economy hasn’t completely recovered.

“Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” is Oliver Stone’s ambitious attempt to explain what caused the crash of 2008 and who is to blame.

Generally, reasonable people are willing to accept simple explanation for why things happen.

People chose to buy houses for a half million dollars and banks were willing to lend them the money to do it. But when those houses were suddenly shown to be worth $300,000 and the buyers couldn’t afford to keep up with the mortgage payments, it became a big problem. And, rather than letting the entire banking system collapse, we the American taxpayer ended up picking up the tab.

But Oliver Stone is not a reasonable man. Simple explanations do not interest him. Stone is inspired to dig deep for the root causes of a problem – the more complex the better.

In “Money Never Sleeps,” Stone tells the story of how a few greedy, unaccountable Manhattan fatcats almost brought down the world financial system with their irresponsible behavior.

Stone’s tale of derivatives and hedge funds and speculation is frankly difficult to follow. But it’s also fascinating. This is a pretty entertaining movie.

Too bad the characters aren’t nearly as interesting as the plot.

The star of the movie is Shia LaBeouf, who is a successful actor despite the fact that he doesn’t have an ounce of charisma.

The villain is a brokerage baron played by Josh Brolin. We know that he is a bad guy because he is always chomping on a big expensive cigar. Brolin does his best, but the character is just too preposterously evil to believe.

Michael Douglas is great as always playing the ambitious egomaniac Gordon Gekko. Unfortunately, his role isn’t big enough. Despite what the previews would have you believe, it’s little more than a glorified cameo.

As a history lesson of a dark time in our recent past, “Money Never Sleeps” is a success. As a dramatic film, it’s a cold, unengaging failure.

 

 

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