When the stock market crashed in 2008 – following another decade of excess, entitlement and inflated capitalism – the economies of Canada and the US took an almost unprecedented hit. Years before, Oliver Stone released a film that was poignant, interesting and succeeded in accurately commenting on the excess-driven 80s and its societal extremes. Since then, Wall Street has become a catalyst for discussion when looking back on any decade defined by greed, and despite its dated references and abundance of Charlie Sheen, is still considered one of the 1980s’ most memorable films.
Now in an age where bottom dollar once again reigns supreme, it only makes sense that a continuation be released; another ode to greed and excess – but this time starring a 21st century heartthrob. Behold: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.
The follow-up to its 1987 predecessor, the sequel attempts to recreate the relevance of the first film, but like most movies hoping to overshadow a previous success, it lacks the heart, earnestness and magnetism that made the former Wall Street thought-provoking in the first place.
Set in the late 2000s, the film centres around the ambitious, up-and-coming Jake Moore (Shia LaBeouf), a Wall Street wunderkind who’s quickly climbing the corporate ladder while attempting to maintain his green-living background. However, after the 2008 financial crisis ends the professional life of his mentor and father-figure (Frank Langella), Moore finds himself sleeping with the enemy – both in the form of his relationship with “greed is good” god, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) and through his alignment with Bretton James (Josh Brolin), the CEO responsible for the downfall of Moore’s former employer in the first place.
To make matters worse, the yuppie-in-training is currently engaged to Gekko’s estranged daughter, Winnie (Carey Mulligan) and with tensions between father and daughter at an all-time high, you can bet it doesn’t bode well when Moore begins meeting secretly with the “reformed” convict.
Needless to say, complications ensue, and Stone uses the 1929 second-coming to shed more light on the downfalls of various esteemed corporations and the lack of stability in our current economy. Sure, it may be set in America, but the parallels between Canada and the US (at least in this regard) are uncanny – lessons can be learned, and memories of failed businesses and closed car plants (like Oshawa’s GM branch) seem a little too real.
However, unlike its predecessor, Money Never Sleeps becomes tangled in sub-plots, relying too much on montages and secondary characters that prevent it from articulating a distinct message. By the 90 minute mark, you know Jake Moore’s in trouble, but you don’t particularly care – not only because you’ve already seen what happens when brats get greedy (Wall Street circa 1987), but because from the onset, he’s basically unlikeable.
While the acting is tight (specifically the performances by Carey Mulligan and Frank Langella), the intimacy between character and viewer seems to have been removed, so instead of using the film as a platform for discussion regarding the state of consumerism and its effects, you find yourself simply waiting for the film to end, interjecting the essential “aw”s and “oh no”s only because it seems appropriate.
Had it not been a sequel, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps would be an adequate film that could be useful to a generation motivated by an impressive paycheque (and for those who haven’t seen the original, it still may be). However, because Wall Street (1987) succeeded so well in drawing attention to capitalism’s gluttonous ways with a story that was unique, Money Never Sleeps simply becomes just another movie released in September.
Posted 959 days ago by
In: New Movies
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