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Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (Review)

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (Review)

You can safely invest in this financial drama.
Sep 19, 2010
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Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
Genre: Drama Release Date: 23/09/2010 Runtime: 133 minutes Country: USA


Director:  Oliver Stone Writer(s): 
Allan Loeb

Stephen Schiff

Stanley Weiser

Oliver Stone

Cast: Carey Mulligan, Harry Kerrigan, Michael Douglas, Richard Stratton, Shia LaBeouf, Sunil Hirani
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (Review), reviewed by Glynn Morgan on 2010-09-19T23:24:36+00:00 rating 4.0 out of5

In the current climate of reboots, sequels and prequels, it has become a natural reaction for movie-goers to groan at the next film to draw off past classics. So initial cynicism about a 21st century follow-up to Oliver Stone’s iconic, white collar drama, Wall Street (1987) is understandable. However, putting aside these prejudices, it becomes clear that Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (Wall Street 2) is a rather good idea, particularly when it’s helmed by the same director.

For the uninitiated, Wall Street (1987) was set in the New York stock market of the 1980′s and followed Gordon Gekko, a renowned market player who didn’t always do things by the book. With the recent global financial crisis, a sequel set during the tipping point (and the heart) of this economic disaster seems like an intriguing idea. Even more exciting is the return of Gekko, the character that made the first movie famous by coining the phrase “greed is good” (actually paraphrased from a quote in the film, but I digress). You can read my review of Wall Street (1987) here.

It is 2008 and Oliver Stone’s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps begins with the prison release of Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas). Now an ex-con, with next to no money (at least compared to his previous life) Gekko hits the financial news one more time with the release of a book, aptly titled “Is Greed Good?”. Meanwhile Jacob Moore (Shia LaBeouf) is living in Manhattan with his girlfriend, Winnie Gekko (Carrie Mulligan). Winnie is the editor of a left wing news website and the estranged daughter of Gordon Gekko, a man she claims means “nothing to her”.

wall street 2 121 e1284801939460 600x294 Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (Review)

Down on Wall Street, Jacob is trying to get funding for a green energy project, which he believes could change the world and make a lot of money. However, things get sinister when his friend Lewis Zabel (Frank Langella), an investment banker, is short changed by the villainous Bretton James (Josh Brolin), who undercuts Zabel’s bank with life changing consequences. Things soon get personal between Bretton and Jacob after something happens to Mr. Zabel. Meanwhile, Jacob has become Winnie’s fiancé and begins to contact Gordon to try and reunite father and daughter, while also sourcing stock market advice off the former master.

Fans of the first film will be pleased to see that continuity has been maintained extremely well in this production, despite the basic story being rather different. This is a good sign, as writers Allen Loeb and Stephen Schiff have managed to maintain some originality, rather than keeping with the formula of the first film.

There are some fun references to Wall Street (1987), as well as some bridging back story, none of which I wish to spoil, but as someone who enjoyed the original, these were very welcome. The film doesn’t rest too heavily on its past laurels, though, so newcomers shouldn’t feel alienated. However, seeing the first film will feel like you found a mint under your pillow.

The world in Money Never Sleeps is portrayed similarly to the first film, albeit with a modern twist. The film’s themes touch upon the ethics of legal greed in today’s world, the absurdities of economics and why the “game” is so attractive. Additionally, the story is fleshed out with more personal drama then the previous film. There is a nice social backdrop painting the lives of Jacob, his mother (Susan Sarandon) Winnie and Gordon. Ultimately, the mix of drama between Jacob’s personal and professional life is quite engaging. These additional social elements also provide a rest from the frequent financial vernacular, which makes a return from the first film.

The performances are excellent. Michael Douglas portrays Gordon Gekko with as much confidence and mystique as he did in 1987; it’s a treat in itself to see him return as the character. Sceptics of Shia LaBeouf’s casting may be surprised to hear he does justice to his role and is probably his best performance to date. Carrie Mulligan perfectly recreates a modern left-wing personality, while making her relationship with a capitalist trader seem rather believable. Frank Langella brings his own human element to the economic side of the film, while Josh Brolin personifies the modern corporate villain with ease.

wall street 2 041 Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (Review)

Other then the sometimes confusing financial language, lines are written and delivered nicely. In fact, just like the previous film, this movie has some sharp quotes. “You stop telling lies about me, and I’ll stop telling the truth about you”, is a particularly good one. Brolin, LaBeouf and Douglas deliver with such cool confidence, which does well to draw you in.

Technically, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is very slick. Crisp, sweeping shots of New York City bring an element of fantasy, that only the Manhattan skyline can achieve. The setting even ventures out to the more natural Long Island, a beautiful backdrop for part of the action. The film also uses computer graphics to make portions of the film look more exciting, with numbers and graphs flying across the screen. Unfortunately, these graphics aren’t really used to educate the audience in any tangible sense. At the risk of looking like an episode of Numbers, I feel this could have been used to help people grasp some of the concepts discussed in the film. Nevertheless, it looks pretty. Music has also taken an update from the characteristic 80′s score of the previous film but still manages to make the white collar world feel damn cool.

Oliver Stone has delivered a quality sequel to Wall Street, which ultimately builds upon the original in a logical fashion. For existing fans, this should add to your appreciation of the world created by both films. For newcomers, this is a fine white collar drama with some interesting insights about the economic crisis we are yet to fully overcome.


Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is an exciting fleshed out drama, managing to make the financial world even more interesting for fans and newcomers alike.

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