Movie Review: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
Prinz Lee wrote this review 5 years ago
The year was 1987 when Oliver Stone’s “WALL STREET” was released. Back then I don’t recall much of a drive with film as a whole. I was only 13 years old and being in the 7th. Grade, into comic-books, PLAYBOY Mags/masturbation, WWF/E wrestling and ones’ typical day-to-day teenage life, there really wasn’t anything else that generated a spark. Fast-Forward to the mid 90s – college years and taking life a bit serious – I landed my first job in Finance and lending its duties towards a Brokerage Firm, the jargon started to engrave itself within my system – slowly developing the asshole in me. And what was once foreign became the norm. Well, not necessarily as a whole, but the attitude did smear on me. What happens next couldn’t have been planned any better. Seeing as my love for cinema had been a bit more openly developed, Stone’s “WALL STREET” crept its way back into my attention span. Inevitability took over and I finally had the chance to view one of the most amazing films ever. It wasn’t just because Michael Douglas is capable of portraying a great villain, or Charlie Sheen an amazing follower who turns into something he winds up realizing can hurt once it hits home, but because a lot of what was being portrayed in the film was being experienced on my end. I’m not saying I was an actual trader fucking people over, but because I was actually working along with people who quietly were “Gordon Gekko” to a degree. Hidden in sheep’s clothing, I came across a lot of wolves thriving on the almighty buck and going at it in any way, shape or form to obtain it. Intertwining both ends of the spectrum, there was an innocence that was violated among my outlook towards mankind and slowly opened my eyes towards those who screw and those who get screwed. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder as they say, however, ugliness never strays.
Fast-forwarding again – The Bush Administration, 9/11, Wars, Economic meltdowns and so on – “WALL STREET: Money Never Sleeps” is set 23 years after the first film, in June 2008, and Gordon Gekko (Douglas) has been out of prison for seven years. Despite his initial attempts to warn Wall Street of the forthcoming economic downturn and stock market crash, no one in the financial world believes him due to his conviction for financial crimes. Gekko decides to re-focus his attention on rebuilding his relationship with his estranged daughter, Winnie (Mulligan). Their time apart, and the fact that she blames Gekko for her brother Rudy's suicide, Winnie avoids any contact with him. At the same time, the mentor of young Wall Street trader Jacob (LaBouf) unexpectedly dies, and Jacob suspects his hedge fund manager (Brolin) of being involved in the death. Jacob, Winnie's fiance, seeks revenge and agrees to Gekko's offer of help, in return for which Jacob agrees to help Gekko with Winnie, not anticipating an unexpected twist once all intentions have been settled.
I’m as skeptical with sequels as I am with remakes, but to much avail this film wasn’t bad at all. I found it strange Oliver Stone hadn’t written this one seeing has he had total “control” the first time around, but there was something about it that peaked his directing interest. Placing the story during contemporary times, everything and everyone flared pretty well. Returning as Gordon Gekko, Douglas didn’t fail in any way. He kept the same “know it all” attitude and fed off the new found fame he acquired due to his cut-throat knowledge of finance and being sought after by just about everyone – including his future son-in-law, Jacob (LaBeouf). In the hyper-active Power-Broker role of Jacob, LaBeouf is basically the same person he plays over and over. I guess Hollywood’s allowed him to just be himself. It’s not a bad thing, however, whenever I watch a film with LaBeouf in it, I pretty much know what to expect. His relationship towards Gekko-dad, seemed a bit more intense and believable than with Gekko-fiance. Even though Gordon’s more of an observer this time around, Gordon’s one-on-one moments with Jacob were precise in the sense of nailing their objectives. Whether chats about a possible reuniting between Gekko and his daughter, or feeding Jacob inside info on Bretton (Brolin), a heartless individual behind a lot of the downfalls that take place within the story, their connection is pretty tight.
Carey Mulligan’s role of Winnie confused me at times. Why? Well, for a person who’s against capitalism, pretty much isn’t sure how she feels about her father and ready to marry a Wall Street solider - She's [in] way too deep with those who are completely opposite. She runs an environmental non-for-profit website and pretty much doing very well for herself. A little contradictory considering other tree-hugging people I’m aware of who want NOTHING to do with corporate America and not living in shabby NYC lofts. Ah – it’s a film, I have to suspend rationality. Just because I’ve gone on a mini-rant pertaining to her character’s contradictions, didn’t mean she was bad. She was pretty good – as always, and although I really didn’t buy her relationship with LaBeouf, as Winnie and presenting Winnie’s objectives, she did pretty well.
A major player I actually found appealing was Josh Brolin as Bretton Woods, a hedge fund manager, who Jacob suspects is involved in the death of his mentor. Bretton has been described as a villain and serves as an antagonist. Bretton is presented as a "new style" version of Gekko in the film. There are no limits to Josh’s talents. This guy owned his character in every aspect and pretty much kept the wheel spinning throughout the entire story. If anything, I feel he stood out the most compared to the “main players.” Even though I wanted to see more of Gekko, something about Bretton replaced that desire.
The film is also accompanied by a pretty good supporting cast. I mean they’re rarely in the film, but key-players to the story as well. One is Frank Langella and the other Susan Sarandon. Through the years they’ve made their mark and as LaBeouf’s mentor and mother, they set up his hunger, personality and drive to “win” pretty well. Overall, the film’s a contemporary sight in every way. The way it’s shot, written and perhaps presented, it’s obvious the film’s letting everyone know that although people like Gordon are the drive towards what’s caused a lot of the financial mess that’s taken place, there’s a side that also subtly gives off a sense that in some ways, corruption is how we tend to win sometimes. It’s something you’d have to see for yourself in order to understand where I’m coming from, but no matter how loud we yell or stomp, there’s a life-line this kind of business will always have, I think it’s safe to say it’s a way of life to a certain degree.
The film’s a bit too long, but completely watchable. It’s full of grittiness and gives the audience an amazing scene between Gekko and Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen). Yep, Sheen has a pretty awesome cameo in this film which brings mention to a lot in the first “WALL STREET.” It’s sort of like a “where are they now” moment with wise-cracks, however, keeping a distant level of respect for what they each stand/stood for.
In closing, not a bad way to "invest" your money.