The infamous Gordon Gekko’s mantra back in 1987’s “Wall Street” was “Greed is good.” In Oliver Stone’s new sequel, “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,” the director makes it crystal clear that greed is legal.
Twenty-three years later, Gekko’s past avaricious insider trading looks like child’s play in comparison to the 2008 financial meltdown.
Michael Douglas reprises his Oscar-winning role as the conniving corporate raider who has spent eight years in prison for his dastardly deeds. Broke and estranged from his daughter, Winnie (Carey Mulligan), Gekko’s on the lecture circuit promoting his new book, “Is Greed Good?” Young Wall Street comer Jake (Shia LaBeouf) is engaged to Winnie and in awe of her demoted daddy.
Jake wants to take down a rival investor (Josh Brolin), whom he holds responsible for his mentor’s (Frank Langella) suicide. If he can forge a reconciliation between father and daughter, perhaps Gekko will abet him in his efforts. All involved, aside from Winnie, are a bunch of self-serving sycophants whose values are about as deep as puddles.
Economic free fall, short-selling, subprime mortgages, hedge funding and leveraging are nebulous terms, which have been saturating the airwaves since the crash. What Stone meticulously manages to do in this brain-blower is put it all into perspective. I actually felt, for the first time, that I understood how and why the world’s economy was almost destroyed.
Even if you don’t grasp the politics, “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” is a visual victory in itself. Stunning cinematography of New York’s cityscapes, lush sets and handsome haute couture accentuate the subject matter. Especially cool are stock-market graph lines superimposed over the Big Apple’s skyscrapers.
Douglas is once again electrifying as Gordon Gekko. I wouldn’t be surprised if he racks up two Oscar nods this year for “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” and “Solitary Man.” On a sad, ironic note, Douglas has a line in the film, “Life is not about money. It’s about time.” Given his present state of health, let’s sincerely hope it’s on his side.
— Pam Nadon
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