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Monday, May 23, 2016

The Monster of Wall Street

Perhaps it is all too easy to dismiss ‘Money Monster,’ Jodie Foster’s big-screen directorial debut, as a politically motivated polemic against corporate greed and misbehavior in our “Occupy Wall Street” era of socio-economic discontent.   That would be unfortunate, because ‘Money Monster’ isn’t so much a politics-disguised-as-art statement as a riveting crime thriller and fascinating study of desperation and the length at which a person can go to seek answers when he has nothing left to lose.

Charismatic investment guru and TV personality Lee Gates (George Clooney) is the star of a popular show on the Financial Network in which he provides “can’t miss” stock market tips.  On the show following the mysterious crash of one such tip due to a “computer software glitch,” he was rudely interrupted by down-on-his-luck deliveryman Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell), who demanded concrete answers for how he lost $60,000.00 on Gates’s surefire financial advice.  What followed is a tense life-and-death hostage drama on live television which held the nation spellbound even as we, like the movie’s villain, sought the answers for which he risked everything for.

Tightly plotted and snappily paced, MM maintains its suspense throughout by parceling out its revelations slowly and assuredly.  George Clooney was excellent as we witness his gradual transformation from Wall Street apologist to sympathetic ally in his realization that you simply can’t explain something like this away with a “glitch in the algorithm.”  Julia Roberts was also in fine form as the show-runner and producer, who displayed great equanimity and calmness throughout the whole ordeal.  MM may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but those who keep an open mind will not be disappointed.

Grade: B+

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