Put money on "Wall Street"

Sept. 27, 2010, 10:17 p.m. | By Melodi Anahtar | 11 years, 8 months ago

Great cinematography and quality acting make "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" worth the watch

In 1987, Oliver Stone's "Wall Street" was met with enthusiasm from critics and viewers across the country who loved the film's wit and clever plot. Stone's sequel, "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps," may not be getting the same response as his original, but fine acting and skillfully composed shots make the movie worth seeing.

The movie is set in New York City in 2008, around the time that the financial system began to collapse. Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) used to be the top dog of Wall Street until he was sent to prison. While serving time, his daughter Winnie (Carey Mulligan) met Jacob "Jake" Moore (Shia LaBeouf), an up-and-coming trader in the stock market. When Moore's mentor dies as the market begins to crash, Jake uses Gekko to try and get back at the man who Jake believes was responsible for his mentor's death. In return, Jake agrees to help Gekko reunite with his daughter. But every step that Moore and Gekko take forward begs the question of what is more important, trust or greed?

Stone incorporates real life events into the movie in the form of multiple government bailouts, a looming financial crisis and speculation about the future of environmental technology. All of these concepts are very timely, but Stone tries to juggle these already big ideas with other subplots revolving around Moore and Winnie's relationship and Moore's attempts to help out a financially strapped nuclear fusion company. The combination of the three turns out to be a little too much for one movie to handle.

The cast, however, is one of the movie's strong points. Douglas won the Academy Award for Best Actor due to his portrayal of Gekko in the original film, so it is no surprise that he plays the role with ease the second time around. LaBeouf finally manages to show his "grown-up" side by playing an intelligent, multidimensional character. It is refreshing to see him playing an adult in a movie that does not feature robots, and it is clear that he has grown significantly since his "Even Stevens" days. Carey Mulligan also delivers a solid performance, adeptly playing the part of a daughter with a troubled past. Still, she is not nearly as strong in the movie as she was in "An Education."

Not only is the acting good, but the movie is also very well composed. There are a lot of over-the-shoulder shots, which give the movie a detached feel. Rather than being immersed in the character's world, the audience watches the action happen as a bystander. This adds to the sly, sneaky feel of the movie, but also makes watching feel the movie feel invasive; it becomes tiresome to look at the shoulders and backs of every character.

Nonetheless, it is interesting to see a movie about Wall Street that has a subtle familial aspect. The tension and awkwardness between Gekko and his daughter, especially during one dinner scene, is familiar and relatable; their relationship brings something emotional to a world that revolves around money and greed. Stone manages to capture the resistance between a trying father and disappointed daughter without veering from the movie's primary genre of financial drama to flat-out drama.

Throughout the film, Stone and cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto clearly want to capture the beauty of New York and symbolize the power of skyscrapers; the two transition between scenes with panoramic sweeps of the New York skyline and city streets. While everyone agrees that New York is a stunning city, after a while the aerial views that were once dazzling become devoid of their symbolic meaning and tedious to look at and simply take up minutes of an already lengthy movie.

Although "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" will probably not become a classic like its prequel, the movie's talented cast, craftsmanship and time relevant plot give viewers a reason to watch.

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (133 minutes) is rated PG-13 for brief strong language and thematic elements. Now playing in theatres everywhere.

Melodi Anahtar. Melodi Anahtar loves anything having to do with science, music or TV. Her favorite vacation spot is the Dominican Republic and her favorite city is Boston (go Red Sox). She can usually be found wasting time in her room, either watching "Grey's Anatomy" or reading … More »

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