Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010) 3/5 (1)


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Rating: The Bad – 59.5
Genre: Drama
Duration: 133 mins
Director: Oliver Stone
Stars: Michael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf, Carey Mulligan

For a director who underwent such a dramatic shift in style from JFK onward, it was always going to be fascinating to see if, while revisiting a film he made in the 80′s, Stone would adopt the more patient and story-centred approach that made that film and his earlier films so good. Well in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, he did and he didn’t. Many of the film’s scenes are given the time to grow naturally as Stone (for the most part) resists his usual craving for frenetic edits and short lens shots. There is a (somewhat) trackable story and the abrupt interjection of source music is kept to an acceptable level. There are even shades of the exciting stock manipulation sequences that made the original so tense. As with the first film, Stone manages to make New York look great while not overdoing it on the aerial or wide cityscape shots.

For every similarity with Wall Street, however, there are many differences. There are split screen shots galore as well as bubble (sigh) and laser graphics floating through various scenes the likes of which never featured in the original. But the fact that this film has a different style and feel to it is not necessarily a problem. This isn’t Wall Street 2, it’s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, part sequel and part stand-alone film. Instead, the real problems centre on the disconnect between the personal story Stone is trying to tell about Shia LaBeouf, Carrie Mulligan (as Gekko’s daughter) and Michael Douglas (as the great man himself) and the wider story of the economic collapse of 2008. These stories are separated by just too wide a scale to comprehensively parallel one another. As a result, the film loses coherence and comes across as a number of different and only slightly related stories. This isn’t going to be the iconic film that Wall Street turned out to be. It’s not nearly as complete or coherent a story and it’s made by a director who has lost much of his subtlety and directorial class. However, this film does feature the return of one of cinema’s most iconic characters, Michael Douglas’ Gordon Gekko, and an interesting story-arc brings something new to this character. Alas, Stone chickens out and deprives us of an ending that would have given this most intriguing of characters a near perfect return to form. Gekko deserved better!

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