- on Friday, 13 May 2016 15:31
- by Frank Wilkins
It's a little known fact that Sidney Lumet's '70s-era thrillers Network and Dog Day Afternoon had a love child. That offspring has since come of age and is gracing theaters in the form of Money Monster, a taut fast-paced facsimile of its progenitors that fails to live jup to the legend of either of those films, but deserves a look nonetheless. Stocked with the same anti-establishment DNA of that bygone era, Money Monster somehow manages to simultaneously display a refreshing modern-day relevance.
It's that pertinence and sense of timeliness that pleases the most as the film aims to take a staggering jab at the gut of Wall Street and its plundering controllers. That it takes the side of the little guy in a world where our money system has gotten out of control is nothing new in a film like this - and certainly isn't a gutsy stance to take. But strong performances, breezy pacing, and loads of surprising humor make Money Monster a better than average film that's a buy in any market.
Jodie Foster directs from a script by Jamie Linden and Alan DiFiore & Jim Kouf. Foster employs the serious star power of A-listers George Clooney and Julia Roberts, but it's the performance of up-and-coming British actor Jack O'Connell that stands out as he follows up his memorable turn in 2014's Unbroken with an equally effective one as Kyle Budwell, a gun-toting hot-head who shows up on the set of a financial advice show hosted by Lee Gates, an amped-up Jim Cramer wanna-be.
It turns out Budwell took Gates' tip on Ibis Clear Capital – a stock the bombastic huckster assured was as stable as a savings bond – a little too seriously and invested his family's entire savings. Naturally, the stock tanked and Budwell lost it all. But he doesn't want his money back. He represents the everyman and is there on behalf of all the little guys who saw their investment evaporate. He just wants an explanation as to what happened to the $800 million valuation of the company that evaporated nearly overnight. To get some answers, he straps Lee into an explosive vest, puts his thumb on the detonator, and demands the cameras continue to roll as he calls for an interview with Walt Camby (Dominic West) the CEO of Ibis Clear Capital.
Completing this human triangle of sorts is Julia Roberts as Gates' show director, Patty Fenn who has a love/hate relationship with her boss. Despite their external differences, she's the yin to his yang as she struggles each day to keep the show on track. With the current crisis underway, Patty spends most of her time in the control room, her character speaking through a mic to a feed in Gates' ear piece. She appears to be the only force available to defuse the situation and keep everyone calm.
At just over 90 minutes, Money Monster plays out in real time as the event is broadcast on live television with Foster rarely letting up on the pressure cooker. The moments that do allow for a deep breath are provided by the much-appreciated humor that oddly feels at home in this statement piece that blurs the lines between real life-and-death drama and make-believe reality TV. Every moment of white-knuckled tension is brilliantly offset by one of gut-splitting laughter.
Money Monster will never be mistaken for Network or Dog Day Afternoon. Those films made us mad as hell, this one doesn't. It does, however, offer up a healthy dose of the sad state we've gotten ourselves into with regards to holding responsible those who take advantage of the little guy. We're all Kyle Budwells in a way. We relate to his unfortunate situation, we just don't sympathize with the actions he takes. Or do we?
MPAA Rating: R for language throughout, some sexuality and brief violence..
Runtime: 98 mins
Director: Jodie Foster
Writer: Jamie Linden and Alan DiFiore & Jim Kouf
Cast: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O'Connell
Genre: Drama | Thriller
Tagline: Who's in control?
Memorable Movie Quote: "GET SOME BALLS!"
Distributor: Sony Pictures Releasing
Official Site: https://www.facebook.com/MoneyMonster/?fref=ts
Release Date: May 13, 2016
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: No details available.
Synopsis: In the taut and tense thriller Money Monster, Lee Gates (George Clooney) is a bombastic TV personality whose popular financial network show has made him the money wiz of Wall Street. But after he hawks a high tech stock that mysteriously crashes, an irate investor (Jack O’Connell) takes Gates, his crew, and his ace producer Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts) hostage live on air. Unfolding in real time, Gates and Fenn must find a way to keep themselves alive while simultaneously uncovering the truth behind a tangle of big money lies.
No details available.