Film Reviews

WALL STREET 2: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS

By • Sep 27th, 2010 •

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Tom Hanks said it best: “There’s no crying on Wall Street.” LaBeouf and Mulligan are terrible. LaBeouf has no “killer instinct”. Douglas makes love to the camera.

As I have said before, so many of Oliver Stone’s characters cry that he must have had a traumatic experience and he cried in public. He keeps reliving this – in my opinion – shameful experience by making everybody else cry on camera. Remember Bud Fox’s public tears at the end of WALL STREET (1987) and Chris’s tears in PLATOON (1986)? I am sure I saw Alexander the Great cry in ALEXANDER: THE DIRECTOR’S CUT (2004).

Well, crying is back. Everybody in WS2 weeps over and over again. I saw the extras crying.

Stone and his writers, Allan Loeb and Stephen Schiff, lured back Michael Douglas to play his iconic character Gordon Gekko with a tale of redemption but no love interest.

I hated the overdone music that constantly intruded on the dialogue. Does Stone think there will be a market for the soundtrack?

We are back in the world of Wall Street traders with Gekko’s daughter Winnie (Carey Mulligan) living with her successful boyfriend, trader Jake Moore (Shia LaBeouf). They live in a fabulous loft. Winnie has daddy issues. Gekko notes the irony.

Gekko is released from prison after eight years. He writes a book and goes on the book signing/speaking circuit. He is still a famous name brought down, we learn, not by Bud Fox and Blue Star but someone else more ruthless than he was.

Ponzi monster Bernie Madoff is a star at the Butner Federal Correctional Complex in Butner, North Carolina. It is considered the “crown jewel” of prisons. Madoff has groupies and is king of the prison yard. How is Madoff suffering? He has to wear a cheap watch!

Jake is a hotshot trader with an old mentor, Lewis Zabel (Frank Langella), who speaks with a very strong ethnic accent, and a money-grabbing mother, Sylvia (Susan Sarandon), who speaks with the same very strong ethnic accent. When Zabel’s bank collapses, Zabel takes the Japanese loss-of-face way out. Jake promises revenge on the man who manipulated the bank’s death, Bretton James (James Brolin).

James is impressed when Jake turns the tables on him and offers Jake a job. Jake accepts. But Gordon Gekko is a star in Jake’s world and, near stalking Gekko, Jake tells him he is marrying Winnie. Gekko wants to be reunited with his daughter, so he takes Jake under his wing.

Gekko has his reasons.

LaBeouf, who looks good in his custom-made suits, has no “killer instinct”. LaBeouf is being groomed to be the next Harrison Ford but he lacks sex appeal. Who is forcing him on us? He has absolutely no chemistry with sad-eyed Mulligan (hence, I believe, why their off-screen romance is a staged affair – to forecast their “on-screen” chemistry).

I cringed every time Eli Wallach made bird sounds. Once again Brolin delivers. He has turned into such a great actor. Yes, we loved psychopath Anton Chigurh in NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (2007), but Brolin was terrific as Llewelyn Moss.

Did Brolin cry in Oliver Stone’s “W” (2008)? Just asking…

Watching Michael Douglas act should be the total curriculum of an acting course. He knows how to make love to the camera and seduce an audience with his charm. He effortlessly steals every scene he is in. He uses his smile to crush his co-stars.

As W.C. Fields famously said: “Never work with children, animals or Michael Douglas.”

The references to the original WALL STREET are noteworthy and the dialogue is so sharp that certain phrases are sure to make it into the great movie quotes lexicon. New York looks beautiful thanks to cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto. He lights Douglas beautifully while crucifying weak-chinned Mulligan.

Gordon Gekko’s transformation from ruthless snake to born-again Christian is a false notion. Would you believe Bernie Madoff’s redemption after getting out of prison on good behavior? Would you buy Madoff’s book?

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