Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010)

Director:  Oliver Stone
Cast:  Shia LaBeouf, Michael Douglas, Carey Mulligan
Plot:  As the global economy teeters on the brink of disaster, a young Wall Street trader partners with disgraced former Wall Street corporate raider Gordon Gekko on a two-tiered mission: To alert the financial community to the coming doom, and to find out who was responsible for the death of the young trader's mentor.

Genre:  Drama
Awards:  Nom. for 1 Golden Globe - Best Supporting Actor
Runtime:  133min
Rating:  PG for brief strong language and thematic elements.

More than twenty years after Wall Street (1987), director Oliver Stone brings Gordon Gekko back to the big screen. Michael Douglas reprises his screen-stealing role as Gekko, and is one of many talented actors who make up the strong cast, which include Carey Mulligan, Frank Langella, Josh Brolin and Shia LeBeouf. Charlie Sheen, who played Bud Fox, a lead character in Wall Street, also makes a cameo appearance.

Money Never Sleeps is, in my view, a more entertaining picture than its prequel, which is occasionally quite dull although it remains to be an important film. In the sequel, Stone focuses more on the stories of the characters and less on jargonized depiction of the inner workings of the financial industry. In a way, Money Never Sleeps could be described as a conventional love story set in the backdrop of the recent global financial meltdown that left many fuming over the unethical behavior of (mostly Western) big-shots who handle and trade greenbacks for a living.

In Wall Street, Gekko was the epitomized figure of greed, played with charismatic vigor by Douglas. Here, he takes on the role of a “wise sage”, someone who has experienced the terrible consequences of greed, but despite that, shows that he is still not infallible. What is greed, really? An emotional response to the temptation caused by the “this is not enough” syndrome? Or is it a rapacious mental desire for excesses? Why does greed manifest more prominently in some people, especially (and ironically) in those who have it all?

Using gimmicky but still relevant editing techniques like the “split-screen” effect to emphasize on the continuous and hurried interaction among stock traders and brokers, Stone succeeds to a certain extent in depicting the frenzied drama of chronic phone-calling, and “time is money” mentality that characterize these people. This is contrasted with scenes of important men in smart suits deliberating (non-productively, I wish to add) over the courses of action to save the nation’s floundering economy.

Much of Stone’s film is paced leisurely, and may bore viewers who show disinterest in anything dealing with “sub-primes and what not”, and are only attracted to the film because of the cast. The fine performances, especially that of Mulligan and Douglas, help pull the film through a few of the more tepid parts. Not as incisive and critical as Wall Street, Money Never Sleeps nevertheless is a decent enough film to warrant a casual viewing.

GRADE: B (7.5/10 or 3.5 stars)

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