Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is Oliver Stone’s sequel to his brilliant drama and morality tale Wall Street that offered audiences a glimpse into the mysterious and nefarious world of stock broking and insider-trading back in 1987. The first film also articulated the zeitgeist of the decadent ’80s, distilling the ethos of the “Me” generation with the catch-phrase “Greed is good.”
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, however, is a disappointment.
Basically a re-tread of the first movie, the plot follows almost every note and scene with substitutions. Gekko’s infamous “greed is good” speech he made to the stockbrokers becomes a sales pitch delivered to college students for his new self-help book, Is Greed Good? Charlie Sheen’s impressionable Bud Fox is replaced by Shia LaBeouf’s driven young stockbroker. (Sheen does have a fun cameo appearance, though.) Having served time, Gekko is a now broken man and his replacement is the utterly ruthless Bretton (Josh Brolin). You get the picture.
Once again the movie references the recent economic crisis. Admittedly, this time the story is driven by revenge, betrayal. It’s also about Gekko’s attempts to reconcile with his estranged daughter Winnie, played by the newest ingenue Carey Mulligan (star of An Education and Never Let Me Go) who inexplicably (and implausibly) is dating Jake.
Herein lies the main problem: there’s no way this character, Winnie, would have fallen in love with such a Wall Street guy who stood for every thing she loathed. Dating Jake was way too much of a compromise of her “green” principles, not to forget a constant reminder of her hated father. Still, my main complaint is the barely two-dimensional rendering of this character.
The lovely and talented Mulligan cries prettily but unfortunately her character was little more than a paper doll, created to react to events and to further the plot with cooked-up devices.Â Almost every crucial turning point hinged on some contrivance involving her, yet true psychological motivation was nowhere to be found..
This movie had no conviction and/or doesn”™t understand women.
The swift and happy resolution (a huge chunk of money fixes everything) was so utterly fake. Winnie should have walked away from the betrayal from both men in her life.
The scene when she tells her Dad why she”™s so mad at him is pure nonsense – none of it made sense when she uttered it – and this scene totally undermines her rage and her sense of betrayal.
Then the scene becomes all about Gekko and his recriminations about the death of her brother and thus Douglas cries his way to his next Oscar.
Douglas is great as the slimy Gekko, but it”™s tough watching him puff away on fat cigars now that we know he”™s undergoing treatment for throat cancer.
Then there”™s the also inexplicable decision to insert several folksy songs by David Byrne and Brian Eno. Yes, I know one of these songs featured in the first movie, but this movie is set in 2008, and so these songs are jarring, dated and distracting.
While some of the visuals were great, such as using the New York skyline to represent the stock charts and red stock ticker images running down the city streets, the use of random visuals of toppling dominoes and bursting bubbles was painfully obvious.
I guess there”™s no way Wall Street:Â Money Never Sleeps could ever have been as great a movie as the original, but it never came close.
What a shame.
Review by Pauline Adamek