Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (12A)
Time Out rating:
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Time Out says
Tue Oct 5 2010Oliver Stone is back on the trading floor for this camper, fluffier spin on his 1987 film. It’s a similar tale of real and surrogate fathers, of greed and charity, against the backdrop of the recent banking crises. Echoing Charlie Sheen’s Bud Fox in the original, Jacob (Shia LaBeouf) is a smart young trader at a New York bank, where he has the mentorship of an old-school boss (Frank Langella) and is on the verge of ploughing cash into an eco-business. But there’s a market crash and an aggressive takeover by rival boss, Bretton James (Josh Brolin, all cigars and motorbikes), which deliver Jacob into Bretton’s more mercenary hands. The other hitch is that Jacob’s ‘leftie’ girlfriend is Winnie Gekko (Carey Mulligan, mirroring the conscience of Martin Sheen in the original): she’s the estranged daughter of the now-legendary, disgraced and repentant Gordon (Michael Douglas), who’s out of jail but not necessarily reformed.
When Gekko walks out of prison carrying an oversized, 1980s mobile, you know this is more panto than polemic. The film’s style is so brash and its tone so comfy that it’s hard to take seriously any attempt to capture the zeitgeist and nail the culture of greed. Brolin’s banker is especially wide: he owns a Goya and you half-expect him to grow horns and cackle wildly in front of it in the shadows. LaBeouf is fine, if a bit bland, as our morally wobbly tour guide around the world of finance, and Douglas relishes resurrecting his slick villain. A series of cosy cameos removes us further from reality: Charlie Sheen pops up as Fox; Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter plays himself; and Stone rears his head twice. Mulligan has no room to shine: her character is a sourpuss and though we’re meant to like her, the film sidelines her as being too dull, preferring to indulge shots of the shimmering city. This is a pulp novelisation of the banking crisis and its pleas for relevance ring hollow.
Author: Dave Calhoun