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Movie Review: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps by CinemaScavarda

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“Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” attempts to capture the zeitgeist of Wall Street's financial meltdown. Sadly for this film, there have been too many newspaper and magazine articles, in-depth interviews and incisive documentaries since the federal bail-out of Wall Street in 2007. Directed by Oliver Stone, the film's content on the meltdown seems dated and at least a year too late on the scene. “Wall Street 2” seems like a caricature of the situation, rehashing and turning the whole thing into a strange family melodrama.

It's sort of interesting to compare “Wall Street 2” to “The Social Network”. Both cover hot news straight out of the headlines with one dramatizing a young man caught up in corporate takeovers and financial duplicity (Wall Street) and the other capturing the beginnings of the online social explosion (Social Network). Both also tie personal relationships to the events to unwrap the story. “Wall Street 2” comes off almost silly with ridiculous, overwrought characters buying and trading and lying and cheating; “The Social Network” utilizes insightful and intense dialogue and nicely formed characters to draw us into Mark Zuckerberg's (Jesse Eisenberg) takeover of the online personal connection world.

Wall Street 2 centers around a young trader (Shia LaBeouf) who is scrambling around trying to make money, avenge his mentor, get a green energy company funded, propose to his girlfriend, save his mother from financial ruin, waste a million plus dollars and get into his soon-to-be father-in-law's good graces. Such a busy guy.

The aforementioned father-in-law is Gordon Gecko (Michael Douglas), seven years after his release from federal prison for time served for insider trading (see Wall Street 1, an insightful and, at the time, unique exposure of Wall Street corruption). The script does not fulfill the requirement of drawing the viewer into the horror and destruction caused by the rampant insider trading and the lies and double dealing. Instead, it focuses on whether or not Gordon Gecko will get his daughter (Carey Mulligan) to talk with him.

Huge Spoiler:
Gecko cheats and steals his way back into a position of wealth, power and influence. And as the viewer, it plays on the screen that we are expected to be sort of happy for him. Why is it bad for the snarling guy (Josh Brolin as Bretton James) to lie, cheat, and steal but somehow heroic for Gecko to get back on top doing the exact same things? It's completely unclear and inconsistent.

LaBeouf seems way in over his head in this role. He lacks the gravitas to make us believe he is a savvy and clever wunderkind trader. Douglas does a good job of reprising his role as Gecko; he's sneaky and snaky and smooth, definitely the best part of the film. Mulligan has nothing of any import to do. Bretton James is a one-note character and it's clear Brolin takes the easy way of making a mean guy face and not much else.

By the way, there is a reunion from “Wall Street 1” of Gordon Gecko and Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen). Much like the rest of this movie, it plays silly and is unnecessary.

“Wall Street 2” is available on DVD. Unless you are a Michael Douglas fan, skip it.

Rating – 4 out of 10
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