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WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf, Josh Brolin, Carey Mulligan, Susan Sarandon, Eli Wallach, Frank Langella, Charlie Sheen, Banessa Ferlito, Donald Trump (Directed by Oliver Stone; Written by Allan Loeb and Stephen Schiff)
--Now Playing

 

“Not a zeitgeist filmmaker, Oliver Stone is, rather, our swiftest, most politically responsive filmmaker, and those attributes make ‘Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps’ dazzling...it is a lightening-quick assessment of our current economic disaster. Rather than celebrating our confusion, Stone resurrects Gekko—here released from more than a decade in prison—and through him examines the still ruthless and corrupt financial system. Nothing changes in the corridors of power, but since ‘Wall Street,’ Stone has become a masterly filmmaker. No one edits plot, behavior and atmosphere more splendidly...Stone has refined his creative energy and focuses on being a mythmaker of giants as in ‘Alexander’ and his series of presidential epics ‘JFK,’ ‘Nixon’ and ‘W.’ Few filmmakers have such a magisterial filmography or an impulse to understand contemporary American experience through its leaders...From the ironies of black and Latino ex-cons who have moved up on their terms to astonishing surveys of the post-9/11 New York skyline, Rodrigo Prieto’s camera virtually strokes the gleaming, phallic skyscrapers. In an instant-classic Museum of Natural History fundraiser sequence, Stone crafts a montage of assorted rich womens’ ostentatious earrings. This film pinpoints greed and luxe as no other movie ever has: America shimmers on the edge of apocalypse—like a bubble about to burst...‘Money Never Sleeps’ isn’t an epic masterpiece like Stone’s ‘World Trade Center,’ but it’s often amazingly vivid.”  --ARMOND WHITE, New York Press

“Michael Douglas makes a triumphant return to form as one of American cinema's great villains in ‘Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,’ the 23-years-later sequel to the movie that captured the go-go '80s. In its own giddy, glib way, ‘Money Never Sleeps’ evinces just as strong a hold on its times, when terms like ‘subprime’ and ‘credit default swaps’--which would have been virtually meaningless two decades ago--are the lingua franca of the financial realm...Using an ingeniously layered visual design, split screens and sinuous mobile cameras that move through scenes like the human sharks who inhabit them, Stone here proves that he's still a director of bold muscularity...Stone has a knack for pacing, detail and atmosphere that manages to feel authentic and fancifully allegorical at the same time...‘Money Never Sleeps’ may belong to Douglas's Gekko, but Mulligan and LaBeouf provide attractive, believable foils to his slippery sleights of hand...‘Money Never Sleeps’ possesses the lift, acceleration and speed of the very bubble it seeks to puncture. Stone has managed to wring unlikely entertainment value from what we now know was the longest recession since World War II. With style, wry humor and a healthy dose of cautionary polemic, he's made some of our most troubling recent history great fun to watch.”  --ANN HORNADAY, The Washington Post

“The best parts of this unfocused, erratic, downright messy sequel are the moments when the bad people take center stage. So let's hear it for Josh Brolin's Josh Bretton (don't even think of calling him Bret) James, an investment banker with ‘an ego the size of Antarctica.’ And some applause for the fearless 94-year-old Eli Wallach's Julie Steinhardt, terrifying when he makes eccentric bird noises and talks about the crash of '29 and the end of the world. And we can't forget Michael Douglas as Gekko Redux, at least in those moments when the film allows him to be as bad as he ought to be. For this version of ‘Wall Street’ can't make up its mind if Gekko is the bad-to-the-bone Lizard King he once was or someone who's seen the light, thank you very much, and is on the road to redemption. Or maybe he's both. The trouble is, this is not an involving enough enterprise for us to work up the energy to care... As directed by a returning Oliver Stone and written by Allan Loeb and Stephen Schiff, ‘Wall Street’ similarly can't decide if it's a revenge melodrama, an attack on aberrant Wall Street financial practices, an infomercial for hydrogen fusion or, that true Oliver Stone rarity, a touching romance. The film has more moving parts than a pricey Rolex, and they are not all in sync... If the bad guys didn't reappear with welcome regularity, ‘Money Never Sleeps’ would be even more of a snooze than it already is.” --KENNETH TURAN, The Los Angeles Times

“For Stone to have left the financial crisis of 2008 cinematically unplumbed would be like Gordon Gekko neglecting to exploit an insider tip on a failing company. So, with the uncynical opportunism and merry lack of subtlety that's his wont, Stone has brought Gekko, the greed-extolling villain of his 1987 smash hit ‘Wall Street,’ back to life...for all of the weaknesses of ‘Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps’ as a stand-alone movie—it's narratively overstuffed, clumsily paced, and ultimately unsure of how to present the charming moral monster at its center—the movie provides entertainment and catharsis in lavish dollops...The movie's punch-drunk energy can't quite make up for what, without giving away any plot points, I can only describe as a third-act lapse into maudlin sentimentality. By the film's last frame, Gordon Gekko has gone from evil to sympathetic to ambiguous so many times that we no longer trust any twist involving him. But thanks in no small part to Michael Douglas' evident joy in playing the role, Gekko has now become one of those characters, like ‘The Big Lebowski’s’ Dude, who no longer needs a movie to sustain him.”  --DANA STEVENS, Slate

“Oliver Stone’s sequel smartly dramatizes the economic meltdown. Shia LaBeouf plays Jacob, a trader engaged to Winnie (Carey Mulligan),  who happens to be the daughter of disgraced financier Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas). Though the elder actor offers a strong, wily performance, Mulligan is underused, and LaBeouf comes off as a lightweight. Since his heavy emotional decision--sell his soul to the capitalist devil or follow his heart--is the movie's core, that's a big deficit.”   –THELMA ADAMS, Us Magazine, thelmadams.com

“Oliver Stone may not have written ‘Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, but the movie has his pawmarks all over it: He never met a cliché he didn’t like, and this allegedly topical sequel to his silly but enormously successful 1987 meditation on greed and, well, greed is stuffed with them...There’s lots of talk and very little true wisdom which, come to think of it, is also a defining characteristic of the overinflated bubble world the movie is so desperately trying to puncture. Incidentally, there are lots of bubbles in ‘Money Never Sleeps,’  both literal and figurative ones—they’re a vague yet heavy-handed motif denoting fragility, opportunity and freedom. But the picture itself is leaden and unwieldy, a project marked by grand ambition but not, unfortunately, the use of actual brain cells. In its empty-headed hubris, it’s not much more admirable than the conniving, moneygrubbing elite it’s trying to take down.” –STEPHANIE ZACHAREK, Movieline

“The best thing in Oliver Stone’s ’Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps’ is  a brief overture in which Michael Douglas’s Gordon Gekko—his face obscured until the last second to build anticipation—emerges from prison after eight years to find no one waiting. Douglas registers the emptiness, breathes in and out, takes in the space. Then a look comes into his eyes: calculating, predatory. It says that Gekko’s will is intact, that what he does now will be worth watching. Vain hope. ‘Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps’ might be the movie-TV crossover point, wherein the sequel to an influential eighties motion picture is so loaded with characters and crosscurrents that we wonder why it isn’t a thirteen-hour cable mini-series instead of an impacted two-hour mess. The film is like my portfolio: full of promise, with minuscule returns.”  --DAVID EDELSTEIN, New York Magazine

“The real story of modern financial calamity is so enormous, so intricate and so confusing that any fictional distillation of it is likely to fall short and ring false, and even casual readers of ‘The Big Short’ by Michael Lewis or the business section of The New York Times will find factual nits to pick with the new ‘Wall Street.’ But there are also moments of astonishing insight, and a sweeping sense of moral drama that feels true in spite of inaccuracies and implausibilities. This movie is by turns brilliant and dumb, naïve and wise, nowhere near good enough and something close to great. If the film were a college course it would be Economics for Poets...In the person of Gordon Gekko, played both times with leonine bombast and reptilian cunning by Michael Douglas, Mr. Stone has conceived one of the definitive heroic villains of modern pop culture.”  --A.O. SCOTT, The New York Times

“ ‘Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps’ is rife with deficiencies, not least of which is that Shia LaBeouf stars as a hotshot trader even though the actor—just a year removed from playing an 18-year-old college freshman in ‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’--doesn't look much older than Charlie Brown. Still, LaBeouf is at least the equal of baby-faced Charlie Sheen, whom he dully replaces here as the new profit-hungry apprentice seduced by Gordon Gekko. His role is thus as de rigueur as this sequel is needless, a rehash in both template and message that dutifully deals with short-selling and subprime mortgage catastrophes, as well as casts interpersonal relationships as akin to financial transactions, yet provides scant insight into the recent Wall Street collapse and the reckless institutional behavior that caused it...Content to merely say what its predecessor said 23 years ago, and more elegantly to boot, there's no revelation to these blunt, garish, perfunctory proceedings, only ‘timely’ moralizing and the negligible pleasures to be found in campy supporting turns from Brolin, Langella, and Eli Wallach...Still, at least Douglas once again embodies predatory white-collar malevolence with relish.”  --NICK SCHAGER, Slant Magazine

“Gekko is one of the movies’ great characters. Like Paul Newman’s Hud, he’s a stonyhearted villain who still draws you in through pure charisma. And he’s, once again, brilliantly played by Michael Douglas. Sly and lizard-quick (the name was always perfect), it’s a great performance...to see this star, now, on-screen, talking about a son lost to the drug world, or using cancer as a metaphor. . .well, we’re not just watching Gekko. We’re watching Douglas, who has been having some of the hardest years of his life, personally, and the most gratifying, professionally... Unfortunately, Gekko is, once again, the symbol, not the star of this story of Wall Street. That, once again, falls to our young stand-in, an eager protégé just begging to be corrupted. That role is played by Shia LaBeouf and he is just as annoying as he was in ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.’ Really—can’t this kid just go upstairs for a while and take a nap, so the adults can talk?” –STEPHEN WHITTY, The Star-Ledger

“ ‘Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps’ glistens and bursts like the 2008 banking bubble it chronicles. It boasts sharp performances from Michael Douglas reprising his role as slimy financier Gordon Gekko and Shia LaBeouf as stock analyst Jake Moore, engaged to Gekko's estranged daughter. The film whipsaws between hyperbolic character study and preachy account of the recent financial meltdown. The two story lines are not well-integrated. Rather than seem to explain the financial meltdown of two years ago, ‘Money Never Sleeps’ uses the 2008 banking crisis as decor. Mostly, I just sat back and enjoyed the actors. No one is better than Douglas at slipping into the skin of a human snake. As Douglas slithers, LaBeouf zags, unexpectedly good at playing the youth caught between social idealism and corporate pragmatism...As a demonstration of two actors working near the top of their game, ‘Money Never Sleeps’ is diverting enough. But as a cautionary tale of personal and business ethics, the film has all the urgency of snail mail.” –CARRIE RICKEY, The Philadelphia Inquirer

" ‘Slick’ is one word that describes ‘Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,’ Oliver Stone's sequel to his 1987 morality tale about greed and self-destruction among stock market wheelers and dealers. Another word is ‘unnecessary.’...Almost everyone in the movie is despicable, so who cares? Did I fail to mention that the script (by Allan Loeb and Stephen Schiff) is so technical that it is rendered very close to incomprehensible?... There's an enormous amount of talk about leverage, speculation, borrowing to the hilt and global malignancy, not to mention elaborate conversations about growth levels in solar energy technology, fusion hardware and ocean-thermal-water conversion that will keep you fighting to stay awake...The fan-magazine charisma of Shia LaBeouf eludes me; the dazzling Carey Mulligan, meanwhile, is actually reduced to blandness for the first time on film...Michael Douglas weaves in and out of the action to deliver a few bitchy lines, but the movie shreds what's left of his character in time for an illogical family-reunion finale I found both embarrassing and overwhelmingly unconvincing. ‘Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps’ is a movie only a hedge fund manager could love.”  --REX REED, The New York Observer

“If one were to take this entertainingly uneven film altogether seriously, it might be worth pointing out that the good old days of Wall Street shenanigans were never all that good–or that old, either. Stone imparts a rosy glow to the old guard in ‘Money Never Sleeps’ – particularly Jake's mentor, played by Frank Langella, and another honcho, played by Eli Wallach, who is so ancient he lived through the Great Depression. Stone has Gekko say things like, ‘While I was away greed got greedier,’ or ‘It's not about the money, it's about the game.’ Meanwhile Gekko is using the money to ambush everything in sight, including his own child. Some game. ‘Money Never Sleeps’ doesn't get inside the sociopathology of the money culture. In a sense, it is a product, an expression, of that culture. Maybe that's why it's so disagreeably agreeable.”  --PETER RAINER, The Christian Science Monitor

“At a time when we've seen several lacerating documentaries about the economic meltdown, and Michael Lewis' ‘The Big Short’ is on the best-seller lists, ‘Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps’ isn't nearly as merciless as I expected. It's an entertaining story about ambition, romance and predatory trading practices, but it seems more fascinated than angry. Is Stone suggesting this new reality has become embedded, and we're stuck with it?...it's a smart, glossy, beautifully photographed film that knows its way around the Street (Stone's father was a stockbroker). I wish it had been angrier. I wish it had been outraged. Maybe Stone's instincts are correct, and American audiences aren't ready for that. They haven't had enough of Greed.” –ROGER EBERT, The Chicago Sun-Times

“Oliver Stone's terrific movie brings back Gordon Gekko just in time for the 2008 recession. Hovering around like a banished king waiting to prosper, Gekko wants to reunite with his estranged daughter (Carey Mulligan), so he mentors her fiancé, Jake (Shia LaBeouf), a young wanna-be bull whose investment firm has just crumbled...The biggest difference between the first ‘Wall Street’ and this whip-smart film isn't Gekko's evolution to human being--it's the sense of dread Stone adds. Here, greed is a constant high, and everyone is chasing the dragon. Among an excellent cast, Douglas truly is the nexus; he and Stone make this sequel pay off big-time.”  --JOE NEUMAIER, New York Daily News


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