Wall Street, The Wolf of Wall Street, The Big Short and Boiler Room, three films that explore the world of finance and deliver, broadly, damning indictments of the morality that guides them all.
Money Monster stands with these, with incredible performances from George Clooney as the charismatic TV host, Lee Gates, taken hostage and forced to face assertions, Julia Roberts as the TV executive, Patty, who is his only real link to the outside world and Jack O’Connell as the wronged victim of the finance sector, Kyle, who takes his vengeance out on the host who misrepresented an investment.
A studio standoff sees Gates and Patty attempt to stave off the impending death threat from Kyle, whilst the whole thing plays out on television. In the background, Diane Lester, the CCO of IBIS Clear Capital, tries to unpick what went wrong with the algorithm that resulted in thousands of investors, including Kyle, losing their savings, whilst a police team attempts to negotiate this situation to an end.
With the police attempting to defuse the situation and IBIS attempting to obfuscate the truth, it’s down to Patty and Gates to save the situation and reveal the truth for Kyle and those who were affected by the “glitch”.
“If nobody can understand the math, nobody has to explain the money.”
It’s a wonderfully complex story that explores just how far morality can be pushed with so much pressure upon everyday life and how far people will go to survive in a world driven by money.
Clooney has gone from strength to strength with the roles he’s chosen, whilst Roberts is on form, but the film belongs to Jack O’Connell, a British actor who has slayed in performances in Starred Up, Unbroken, 71 and much, much more.
This is drama at its most tense, beautifully rendered by Jodie Foster, and incredibly well cast, scripted and acted. O’Connell, Clooney and Roberts command the screen with such power. Between these three, they have natural, undeniable charisma that burns from the screen and brings their characters to life. Watching Dominic West and George Clooney verbally sparring towards the end of the film is cinematic dynamite, and O’Connell steps up to the challenge of sharing screen time with a true powerhouse of the screen.
“You’re not a genius, you’re a stockholder”
The film is a fantastic achievement, a story that cuts to the heart of finance, showing the impact beneath the wealthy veneer and delivers an emotional story. It may not be the indictment that The Big Short was, it certainly doesn’t possess the machismo of Wall Street or Wolf of Wall Street and it’s a fantastic achievement in itself.