Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Money Monster Review

Money Monster Review
Are you a optimist, a realist or a pessimist? Its a simple question, and we are all different compared to where you are in life, what you've succeeded at, what you've failed at and a host of other motives and experiences that make you the person you are. I tend to be a realist myself, but there is always a slither of hope deep inside me. I like to try to think that when I give my money to a bank in this day in age that they will do the right thing with it. As history has shown, that's not exactly the case. So its easy to be real about the current situation and how finance in our lifetime has changed and shifted.

"Money Monster" tells the story of a Wall Street guru Lee Gates (George Clooney) who has a stock tip show called Money Monster. At the beginning of the movie, he gives a tip on a stock known as IBIS. Seemingly overnight, this promising stock drops due to a glitch in the algorithm, which costs its investors $800 million. On the set of the episode after the stock crash, Kyle Budwell (Jack O'Connell) shambles onto the set, with a gun loaded, and takes over the show. Kyle lost $60,000 in the IBIS stock crater and wants some genuine answers as to how a promising stock could have fallen so hard. If Kyle doesn't get his desired answers, he will blow up the set, as he straps a bomb to Lee's chest. Lee, with the help of his director Patty (Julia Roberts), start digging for answers. Of course, the police are closing in on Kyle and of course, not everything is the way it seems with the IBIS stock.

This is a fast paced drama, full of tension and thrills. It is anchored by the acting work done by George Clooney, Jack O'Connell and Julia Roberts. Clooney's Lee Gates is a pompous ass, and creates an unlikable ego when it comes to his lifestyle and his career, Clooney easily slips into this role. When O'Connell's Kyle slips into challenge him, its out of thin air. Clooney soon turns human and fearful and the reversal is believable. Jack O'Connell is very good at portraying a man suddenly crippled by something he thought would be a sure thing and throws himself into his role and into his powerful scenes with Clooney. Julia Roberts and Clooney, who have worked together so many times at this point that its hard to keep track of them all, make an astounding team in this movie. Their work relationship feels lived in and real. When the twists and turns regarding their friendship is revealed for the movie, it is hard not to feel it, even though we just met these characters. 

"Money Monster" feels like a movie that came out in the 1970's, very reminiscent of films like "Network," or "Dog Day Afternoon." Its a story that blends a social issue with the drama of the story. Its not based on a true story and it doesn't deal in metaphor. It throws an issue that feels believable in this world today and builds an entertaining and thought-provoking story at it. For a story like this, it requires some believable characters, and the work done by the entire cast is magnificent. A movie like this barely comes out anymore and I like something that feels intellectual during a time of the year where our theaters are littered with superhero movies and sequels we may or may not have asked for.

Director Jodie Foster does a decent job bringing this story together. I say decent because it feels like at any moment, the movie could have got away from her on a logic level. How does Kyle get into the Money Monster studio? He just waltzes right in. There is no tension, no drama, no chance of him getting caught. He just walks right in. In our day in age, that seems flabbergastingly unrealistic. I know its essential to the movie for Kyle to get into the studio, but they could have tried harder to make that moment count. When the police get to the studio to save Lee's life, the plot they come up with is so ridiculous that I had to make sure I watching the movie I was watching. I get it, lots of people out there are not liking police these days, but even their plan to save Lee is way too absurd. Then there is the walk from the studio to the IBIS meeting ground, to have an interview with IBIS' CEO for Kyle to get the answers he seeks. Lee, Kyle, and a huge host of police literally walk to the meeting ground. Its so profoundly weird that it took me out of the movie for bit. There was so much smart build-up to a climax that just felt lazy.

While "Money Monster" doesn't exactly hit its target, it will definitely get that brain of your working. And in a season like this, its fresh to see something like "Money Monster." I can let some logic problems and storyline slips go when Clooney and company do such a good job of bringing these characters to life and make this slightly muddled story entertaining. They have fun with it, so its hard to be apart of the fun. Its a movie that shows us that its okay to reflect on the social issues that are apart of our everyday life in a meaningful manner and that's a miracle unto itself.


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