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Archive for October 16th, 2010

During the height of 80’s excess Oliver Stone made his most iconic if not his best movie (I can never decide if that honour belongs to Salvador or Platoon). The movie featured his most iconic and (mis)quotable character Gordon Gekko, played by Michael Douglas who won an Oscar for his performance. With the economic world in crisis it comes as no surprise that Stone should revisit Gekko at this time.

The movie starts with a Blues Brothers style release from prison in 2001 where Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) is given his possessions back including a house-brick size mobile Phone, remember them? Not letting the facts interfere with a good joke the phone looks like it predates his 1990’s incarceration. We quickly fast forward seven years to investment banker, Jake Moore (Shia LaBeouf) and his girlfriend, Winnie (Carey Mulligan) who we quickly discover is Gekko’s daughter. The rest of the movie is set against the backdrop of the sub-prime mortgage crisis and the subsequent credit crunch and near financial apocalypse. Given his track record with the Kennedy assassination, the Vietnam war, and 9/11 it was inevitable that Oliver Stone would make a credit crunch movie. To do this he needed a young leading man at the centre of the story and there lies the problem, the character is fine but the actor is a problem! Shia LaBeouf is a week actor who is constantly in the shadow of his co-stars. The director really didn’t give the kid a chance, where he may be a thespian in the company Megan Fox and some animated robots, here his girlfriend is played by Oscar nominated Carey Mulligan, his mentor by Oscar nominated Frank Langella, his new boss by Oscar nominated Josh Brolin and that’s before we even get to Oscar winner Michael Douglas as Gekko and Oscar winner Susan Sarandon playing his mother. Fortunately for LaBeouf but unfortunately for the movie it s a long time before we see Gekko again. The idea is fine, lets not forget Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) was the main character in the first movie. If only they had found a more charismatic and talented star.

Elements of the movie are close to brilliant; the boardroom scenes (event the ones featuring LaBeouf) are great as is the filming of the motorbike race, but the great bits are too short and too few ad far between thus lost amongst the very average rest of the movie. Ultimately I just don’t get this movie; the original was a scathing look at the excess of the cynical quick-buck culture of the 80s with Douglas’ Gordon Gekko as the figurehead of the evil ideals. In this movie it appears Stone is giving his most famous character a shot at redemption. As an explanation of the global financial crisis the movie has nothing new to say. As a character study it has even less to say. As a drama, it works well other than the inadequacies of the leading man.

Not a great movie but an enjoyable one at times especially when Douglas, Brolin or Sarandon is on screen.

Three Stars out of Five

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