With Michael Douglas, Charlie Sheen, Daryl Hannah, John C. McGinley, Terrence Stamp, with Hal Holbrook, and Martin Sheen.
“What you see is a guy who never measured a man by the size of his WALLET!”
In the wake of the much anticipated release of Oliver Stone’s follow up “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”, which by the way was the only Stone film to EVER be accepted to Cannes (weird huh?), I wanted to give a serious review of “Wall Street”. I just proposed a list of my top ten Oliver Stone films and ranked “Wall Street” as number one.
The story is set in the peak of the financial boom of the 1980’s where Charlie Sheen portrays Bud Fox an eager young stock broker that is pining for a shot at the big time. His idol, Gordon Gekko, is the tyrant of Wall Street and the physical embodiment of the 1980’s. Fox is incredibly persistent with Gekko’s secretary and eventually gets five minutes with Gekko.
When Fox enters Gekko’s office it’s as if he’s entering a war bunker. There are papers everywhere, cigarette smoke is looming, and people are talking secret strategy in the corner. When we finally see Gekko he’s screaming on the phone about jargon that most of us wouldn’t understand but we do get the picture. Gekko is vicious and takes no prisoners.
Fox is incredibly nervous (and who wouldn’t be), once he starts to pitch his proposals to Gekko, he is just sitting, ignoring, taking his blood pressure and shrugging off every idea that Fox has, and I absolutely loves how he calls them “dogs with fleas”. Fox is out of ideas, until he mutters “Blue Star”. Blue Star is the airline that his father has invested his entire life into, and they are just about to get a federal ruling by the government that an accident that happened to an airplane wasn’t the fault of the company, but of the manufacturer.
This intrigues Gekko, not because it seems like a good deal, but because he feels that Fox has some sort of unknown insight. Once Gekko does find out that Fox actually does have inside information he befriends him, and takes him under his wing.
One facet that I really enjoy about the film is the father and son theme. Fox essentially has to choose between his own blue collar hard working father (played by Sheen’s actual father Martin) or the slick and smooth yet ruthless Wall Street tyrant. The scene in which Fox visits his father in the hospital in the wake of his father’s heart attack and he tries to make things right is one of the most heartfelt, touching scenes ever.
The film is so excellently paced and it flows and never drags for a split second. The information about stock, bonds and financial business isn’t dumbed down for us, it’s a very complex film, but we find our way through it. The terminology may be hard to chew, but the narrative and performances help us swallow it.
The performances are what truly make the film excellent. Charlie Sheen and Michael Douglas give the finest performances of their careers (hence Douglas’ acting Oscar). What makes it even better is the strong supporting cast of Martin Sheen, Terrence Stamp, John C. McGinley and Hal Holbrook (of which I am upset that none of them are returning for the sequel).
Stone has this way of being the filmmaker of the times; he completely makes the film real. The long shot of Gekko and Fox meeting in the park at the end of the film is the finest shot of any Stone film. Everything about the materialism, flow, and themes of the 1980’s is conveyed to perfection in this film. I am looking forward to Stone’s sequel, because it is truly the perfect time for it. Because without the influence of Gordon Gekko, I doubt we’d be in the economic situation we’re in now. This is Oliver Stone’s masterpiece.