Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Film Review: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010)

(my friend, don, has been asking for my thoughts on the sequel to the original Wall Street, so i sat down to watch it on PPV last night, and here's where i came out.)

Roger Ebert's infamous review of Rob Reiner's 1994 film, "North", contained the following bit of prose:

"I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it."

For some reason (ok, many reasons), this old review came to mind, repeatedly, as i fought the constant temptation to "go all Elvis" on my Sony XBR last night while enduring this 2010 sequel to Oliver Stone's iconic 1987 cautionary tale of conspicuous consumption and greed. From the opening bleats of the David Byrne/Brian Eno soundtrack to the obligatory Charlie Sheen (and two hooker) cameo, almost every moment of this obvious, blunt force trauma made me want to punch someone. Shia LaBeouf's angry innocence? Pow. Josh Brolin's cardboard villain? Pow. Carey Mulligan, Susan Sarandon, Austin Pendleton, Eli Wallach? Pow, Pow, Pow, Pow! Has there ever been a greater waste of talent (or worse collection of accents?)

We get it, Oliver. We didn't learn our lesson and now the Apocalypse (quite literally, if you're a fan of wide tracking shots over Ground Zero) is upon us. And -only- Gordon Gekko can save us. Or fuck us in the ass. Or both or neither or wait, is this thing -still- not over?

The philosopher Aristotle said in his work Poetics that tragedy is characterized by seriousness and dignity and involving a great person who experiences a reversal of fortune (at least according to Wikipedia.) If that's true, then the real tragedy of WS:MNS is that the director of "Platoon", "Born on the Fourth of July", and the original "Wall Street" has returned to a 23 year-old well intent on passing off its brackish contents as cool, clear and refreshing. But it's not. It's not even the sickly sweet "Kool-Aid" that Gecko cautions his adoring audience against drinking. Its just stale and stinky, leaving you unquenched and slightly queasy with the sure knowledge that you'll wake up in the morning with cotton mouth and a pounding headache.

Over produced, over acted and underwhelming, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is a thorough mess whose most entertaining moment comes in the opening scene when the newly released ex-con, Gekko, is given back his iconic Motorola-brick cell phone. After sitting through this 2 hour and 7 minute magnum dopus, it occurred to me that this whole drama could have been avoided if old 'Gordo' had (spoiler alert) simply taken that $100 million he stashed away in Zurich back in '87 and invested it in Apple stock. By the time he got out he'd have more money than he'd know what do to with -and- a shiny new iPhone.

Or perhaps it's Stone who's fucking with us, at this very moment penning the third installment, "Wall Street: Love The Yuan You're With".

So, Don, my my verdict on "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps"?
To paraphrase the great Paul Simon, "Still Greedy After All These Years".