The financial industry has betrayed the American public, and the world. Stock brokers and analysts use the money of the average Joe to play a complex game where limits are infinite - until they come crashing down. The themes haven't changed much since Oliver Stone's 1987 classic Wall Street, but they are even more relevant than ever. Of course, the bigger question is whether the movie sequel is relevant.
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps returns Michael Douglas to his infamous role Gordon Gekko and introduces Shia LaBeouf as a young, eager broker who becomes entranced by the sleazy executive. As the big banks seek bailouts, Gekko searches for his comeback and Jake (LaBeouf) his first fortune.
As silly and unnecessary as the movie seems, Wall Street 2 is a legitimately entertaining and compelling drama for director Oliver Stone, who hasn't hit the nail on the head in a long while. Smartly written, the movie features some great performances - especially by Douglas.
Unfortunately, the movie isn't without its flaws and they rear their ugly head in a big way in the third act. Stone works himself into a corner by taking three story arcs and shoving them into a single picture.
He attacks the bank bailouts head on, but they ultimately have little to do with the overall plot. Gekko is the character Stone cares about most, but when the third act comes around, he struggles with what to do with him (should he be good or should he be bad?). And then there's the main character - Jake - who is interesting but ends up as a deer caught in the headlights.
The first two acts are great. The third act is not so great.
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is anticlimactic. After the big "twist," the movie loses its focus. The bailouts don't really serve a purpose and Jake is left spinning his wheels. It's Gekko's time to shine, but it comes too little, too late. There's nothing triumphant about the decisions he makes, nor does he pay the consequences for what he does.
Maybe that's the point, but maybe it's just bad writing.
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is a worthwhile sequel that is consistently entertaining, but its lack of a fulfilling climax keeps it from classic status.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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