Money Monster

'Money Monster' movie poster

Release: Friday, May 13, 2016

[Theater]

Written by: Jamie Linden; Alan DiFiore; Jim Kouf

Directed by: Jodie Foster

In Jodie Foster’s latest, good old George is forced to strap explosives to his chest on live television and admit to everyone — everyone in Manhattan anyway — that he, the arrogant host of a colorful, high-octane financial talk show, is nothing but a crook. With a gun also pointed at him and his crew, and the assailant with a finger on the detonator, he has no choice but to play along.

In the interest of solidarity, so must we. That, and it’s just more fun going with the flow rather than trying to figure out solutions to the many questions Money Monster raises.

Clooney plays Lee Gates, the centerpiece of a whacky platform you might equate to real shows like American Greed or Mad Money, the latter to which this owes more with its in-your-face delivery and egomaniacal host. Clooney, one of those last vestiges of bona fide movie stardom, convinces as something slightly more than just a pretty face in front of a camera. His geeky enthusiasm over crunching numbers is actually sort of infectious, though  his sense of superiority and ego stroking could be obnoxious to those who don’t keep their eyes on Wall Street. Either way, job well done.

Behind the scenes, director Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts) juggles producers, camera crew, schedules and the unwieldy task of making sure Gates actually sticks to the day’s script. Mere seconds into just another broadcast she spots a figure lurking in the background, a man carrying some boxes who soon exposes himself as an armed and emotionally unstable investor named Kyle (Jack O’Connell) who has lost a lot of money thanks to a “glitch” in the system, resulting in the company he has sunk $60k into losing $800 million literally overnight. He demands answers from the ones responsible, and has decided Gates is one such individual. The other is Ibis CEO Walt Camby (Dominic West), who has conveniently gone incommunicado since the event.

What begins as a frightening confrontation turns into a nightmarish battle between protecting the interests of the bureaucracy and a need for total corporate transparency.   Police negotiations break down and other options are proving limited as well, particularly when NYPD brings Kyle’s pregnant girlfriend Molly (Emily Meade) on to the scene, hoping she can talk some sense into him. The plan backfires horrifically as Molly, rather than trying to calm him down, lays into him (again, on live television) with a barrage of insults and increasingly vicious barbs that get more personal by the second, leading to one of the most shocking and shockingly effective moments of the entire picture. It’s not exactly the cutesy, unnecessary detour into tender romance we’ve been trained to anticipate.

Money Monster proves to be quite the entertaining little potboiler. It’s distressing stuff but Foster also manages to find the funny in certain moments. One could argue the tonal disconnect between an act of terrorism and comedy, and yet the injection of some quips and the odd running joke about a producer obsessed with balls turns out to be one of the film’s greatest weapons, moreso than the overly familiar stench of disdain and dissidence as a poorly planned hostage stunt yields a much more complex discussion about class structure and the corruption of the American financial system.

There is a more ambitious film buried somewhere in this ‘leave no stone unturned’ approach to getting to the heart of corruption, but like Adam McKay with his own personal vendetta The Big Short, Foster sets the vacuity of morality and human decency as a dramatic backdrop in this world of high finance and “risk-taking.” Even if Kyle’s embodiment of the brokenness of the American dream isn’t something we’re experiencing for the first time, neither his bleeding heart nor the director’s obvious frustration is easy to ignore.

Screen Shot 2016-05-14 at 12.00.17 AM

Recommendation: Far from the perfect crime movie but Money Monster offers up a lot of food for thought with its combination of terrific acting, pulse-pounding action and a relatively complex but hardly labyrinthian narrative that makes it easy to buy into the plight of its characters, on all sides of the argument. Once you get over the incredibly strange opening act, Money Monster really opens up into something worth investing your time (and money!) in. 

Rated: R

Running Time: 98 mins.

Quoted: “What, is this a union thing?”

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited. 

Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com

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19 thoughts on “Money Monster

  1. Ah, ok well I’m pleased you liked this. This is the first positive review I’ve read about Money Monster. I’ll be honest, the trailer really didn’t sell it to me!

    • The trailer ain’t great, I concede that! But the stars here prove why they’ve been stars for awhile. Clooney and Roberts (much to this reviewer’s pleasant surprise) are great in their respective roles. Yeah, okay, it’s a little hard to buy into these particular actors playing *these* roles but I have also seen far more ridiculous casting. 🙂 Money Monster is worth the trip to cinemas, in my estimation.

  2. 6/8, sounds impressive. I do love the cast and O’Connell has really impressed me in his movie so far. He is so talented yet always seems so down to earth in interviews, very refreshing.

    • 6/8 is possibly too high a score for this now that I stop and think about things but it’s whatever. I think ratings are almost redundant anyway. I hardly doubt there’s ever been a time when some reader came here and thought one thing about the movie and then saw the score, and then thought the exact opposite thing. Hahah! But for what it’s worth, this experienced cast (plus O’Connell, who is getting a lot of experience quickly judging by his IMDb) makes this often predictable and clunky journey well worth it. Thanks for reading

      • Jodie Foster directing has me intrigued I must say. I love her as an actress so I’m interested to see how she fares behind the camera.

        • See I’m actually not so sure about Foster as an actress. I think the one thing she’s done that’s unquestionably great is Clarice Starling. I find her acting to be really wooden and awkward, but that’s just me. As a director though she shows more confidence.

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  4. Last night I was dragged to see Capt. America and walked by this poster in the lobby. I would have preferred to see this instead. I admire Foster, and although Clooney and Roberts don’t thrill me anymore, I hoped it was good. Your post seems to endorse it.

    • They might thrill you in this, actually, if I may be so bold 😉 I’ve never been big on Julia Roberts and George I do like but do see where people may have grown tired of him or think he’s overrated and whatnot but Money Monster makes everyone kind of interesting

  5. Not a big fan of George Clooney, but this film looks pretty good and you’ve made it sound interesting. Also, I’m a big fan of Jack O’Connell, and I think it’s brilliant how far he’s come since starring in Skins. He’s so ‘un-Hollywood’ like it makes his rise to stardom all the more impressive.

    • Thanks Liam, I’m glad I could maybe help nudge you closer to checking it out. Jack O’Connell is really good in this, he brings back that tension he had in the terrific ’71 from last year. I agree, he’s really un-HOllywood. A real gem of an actor !

  6. Hmmmm. I was going to ignore this as it seemed like a Hollywood film that I wouldn’t like, but you’ve described this well… I’m not sure when it comes out here but I have seen posters. I was going to skip it but I reckon I’ll catch it now. Clooney can be really good when he tries.

    BTW, thanks for the link love mate 🙂

    • Cheers dude, no problemo! There’s no denying Money Monster’s commercial appeal. I mean its kind of odd trying to buy into the sincerity of two individuals here who are played by perhaps some of the wealthiest actors in the entire biz, and so when their moralities are kind of put to the test it could ring insincere for some people, and I get that, but I think it was a really entertaining popcorn thriller. It’s the kind of smaller movies with MASSIVE stars that I think Hollywood needs more of. . .

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