Top critical review
4 people found this helpful
Money might not sleep but you might, nowhere near as good as it should be
on 6 August 2014
Wall Street remains a firm favourite of mine with the edgy plot, excellent cast and back to a time when Oliver Stone could dish out the on screen goodies as good as anyone sitting in the director's chair. In short Oliver Stone = Interesting well made movies with real edge.
I had mixed feelings about watching this film, partly because Stone's more recent films paled compared to previous productions and secondly the cast, Douglas aside I wasn't convinced Shia LaBeouf (fine for Transformers) was up to the job of this kind of role, and on both counts the film comes up short but the problems go beyond Stone and a single actor. The other problem is the original Wall Street, being such an iconic film for many just didn't really need a sequel hence the term "why bother" springs to mind.
Anyway onto the plot, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) is released from prison after serving him time for insider trading (at this point we still have the bones of what could be a decent sequel) However Gekko is not the ruthless trample on everyone financial war monger he used to be, he's now a reformed man. Gekko sets about trying to "put right" his relationship with his distant and unforgiving daughter Winnie Gekko (Carey Mulligan) who is less than happy about the Gekko legacy of corruption and greed as well as the suicide of her brother which she blames Gekko for
She happens to be dating a young up and coming trader Jacob Moore (Shia LaBeouf) who soon ends up helping Gekko try to rebuild his father/daughter relationship and in return Gordon will help Jacob get revenge on the man who pushed his MD (Louis Zabel ) played by Frank Langella to suicide. The predictable bad egg character in this case is Josh Brolin as Bretton James head of the investment bank which put Louis in a tight spot.
Firstly a few problems start to arise, the film is trying to do too much at the same time. We have Gekko trying to make amends for his past deeds and iffy role as a father. The second if a fairly predictable financial revenge plot which fails to excite. Josh Brolin isn't bad (think of him as the more up to date Gekko type) but evidently Javier Bardem was due to play the role but backed out. After Bardem's outstanding bad guy role in "Skyfall" it might have added some edge to the character. Still either way the screen play and script lack sparkle and hit merely competent at best.
The other "crime" is with recent events (the huge financial crisis that hit all over the world), mixed with one of the most iconic "bad boy" business characters aka Gekko, you'd be forgiven for thinking that it would be a white knuckle ride that would have your palms sweating on the crushed cheque book and visa card. Sadly neither is the case as Stone plods along with his "passable/watchable" film that just fails to land the punches it could have.
It's not a good film, it's not truly awful either it shifts a few hours of time and is nothing more or less than acceptable. I can't blame single cast members, though I feel LaBeouf just isn't right for this role. Few cast members stand out, though I can see Douglas is trying, it would be no understatement to say that "Gekko" is and remains his defining role he played so brilliantly in the original film. However you can only work with what you are given, and the script/story just don't shine, the directing is laid back and has no real edge.
I feel sorry for Douglas in a way, this could have been a strong film despite the loyal fan base who feel no sequel is needed. Stone has sadly spent too much time on the "personal side" and taken no risks. And the reformed good guy Gekko just doesn't work. What could have hit the spot is the eager and hungry "older Gekko" could have been released from prison and gone back to his old ways, the powerhouse of financial fear, the take no prisoners tread on everyone Gekko we all know and love to hate. With the financial meltdown real world events you could easily have made a story with a few "shirts getting lost" big time.
There are other potential story lines, but all of this is merely academic. As one film friend said to me "you don't make a sequel to Wall Street without busting a gut to make a damn good movie, or trying as hard as you can" Stone neither tries nor really ever gets into the skin of the film. We even get the obligatory Charlie Sheen (Bud Fox) very small cameo role which does nothing at all to add to the film.
What a shame, at best it passes some time it's watchable, but watch this back to back with the first Wall Street and you'd be forgiven for thinking the two films were made by entirely different people. Could have been a corker, ended up tainting the bottle a bit.