“Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” – 2010. Dir. Oliver Stone

With Michael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf, Josh Brolin, Carey Mulligan, Susan Sarandon, John Bedford Lynch with Eli Wallach and Frank Langella.

“If you stop telling lies about me, I will stop telling the truth about you.” – Gordon Gekko

Finally, it has happened. Gordon Gekko is out of jail. He spent five years in court, and another eight years in prison. America is on the brink of a financial collapse, the major banks are starting to shake; faith in the economic market is starting to falter. Twenty-three years after Oliver Stone’s masterpiece “Wall Street” Stone directs the only sequel to any of his films: “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”.

It’s 2008 and the housing market bubble has popped. The banks are failing. Jacob Moore (Shia LeBeouf) works for his mentor Lou Zabel (Frank Langella) who’s bank is the first to go under. The banks are worried, but they think the Federal Reserve will bail them out because “we’re too big to fail”. The banks meet with the Fed Chair (John Bedford Lynch) and expect a government bailout. Zabel’s bank is about to go under and essentially starts begging the Fed Chair for help. The Fed doesn’t seemed opposed to lending money to the bank until Bretton James (Josh Brolin) – whose bank is a fictional Goldman Zachs – pipes up and doesn’t think Zabel’s bank is worth the bailout. Brolin and Langella are amazing as they duke it out.

What progresses is Zabel throwing himself in front of train that leaves his protégé Jacob Moore (Shia LeBeouf) on a mission of revenge, to hurt whoever is responsible. Jacob finds himself in a unique position; he’s marrying Gordon Gekko’s (Michael Douglas) daughter Winnie (Carey Mulligan). Winnie hasn’t spoken to her father in years, she refuses to see him. Moore seeks out Gekko on his book tour (writing a book “Is Greed Good?”) and tells Gekko after his speech that he is marrying his daughter.

Jacob brokers a deal with Gekko. If he promises to help reunite Gordon with his daughter, Gordon will find out who was behind the actual demise of Zabel’s bank. Jacob agrees to help and Gordon starts feeding Jacob information about Bretton James who was once one of Gordon’s underlings. But nothing is ever fair and square with Gordon Gekko, is it?. Gordon does help Jacob find his man, but Gordon also has something going for himself.

Oliver Stone does an excellent job building a compelling story that can exist on its own terms but also allowing us to follow Gordon Gekko once again. Shia LeBeouf does get a majority of the screen time in the film since he is the central character, but every time Michael Douglas is off screen, he still owns this film.

I mean fuck! Michael Douglas gave us one of the most ruthless villains to ever hit the screens as Gordon Gekko twenty three years ago. I mean, Michael Douglas won the Oscar that year for his roles as Gordon Gekko. There aren’t many references to the original film at all, aside from Gekko talking about his family and the mentioning of Budd Fox (Charlie Sheen in the first film) and a brief scene with Fox showing us where he’s at now.

It’s a dinner that Jacob got Gekko in to (since Jacob’s date is Gekko’s daughter), and Gekko literally bumps into Fox while everyone is mingling before dinner. We see a much older Budd Fox who has a girl on each arm. They banter for a hot minute and then Budd excuses himself from the two girls and takes a few steps away to talk to Gekko. We find out where Budd Fox has been, what happened to Blue Starr Airline and then Budd asks his former mentor, “…now tell me Gordon. Does Blue Horseshoe still love Anichot Steel?” It’s pretty wonderful.

At this dinner, Jacob is sitting with Bretton James – who he has started working for – and Gordon walks over. There is an excellent exchange between Josh Brolin and Michael Douglas since Josh Brolin’s character is the Gordon Gekko of the 2000’s. Gordon tells Bretton, “I’ll stop telling the truth about you when you stop telling lies about me.” Great line.

Oliver Stone gives us an over edited, flashy and complex movie. We have no other option then just to accept this entire Wall Street lingo that’s thrown on us. We don’t understand all of what they’re saying, but we get the big picture.

The cast is nothing less than five star. Michael Douglas gives us an older and more broken Gordon Gekko, but he still has a lot of fight left in him. Josh Brolin gives a great performance as a modern day Gekko. Brolin is just so creepy good. Frank Langella is tough as nails as the old school money man.

I have always hated Shia. I thought he was terrible in Indy 4, but then after watching this film it made me realize how terrible Indy 4 really was. He’s actually very, very good in this film. I find him believable and sharp. He’s our generations Charlie Sheen – and he wasn’t half bad.

I didn’t care for Carey Mulligan. She spends most of the film crying. I’m being serious. And I never liked Susan Sarandon and this film shows me exactly why. She plays Jacob’s real estate agent mother who has over extended herself in the housing market and needs money from Jacob. This story arc or character isn’t need in the final film, but I understand why Stone keeps it in the film; it’s a nice parallel to Charlie Sheen’s relationship with Martin Sheen in the first film.

I feel that Douglas and Stone really wanted to make this film as a repercussion film since every jerk-off on Wall Street looks at Gordon Gekko as a hero. This film doesn’t blame Gekko directly for the housing crisis, but it defiantly paints a picture of look what Gordon Gekko inspired. Greed is good, greed is legal.

This is a very good film. It’s nowhere as great as the first film, but it’s a nice follow up. Stone is one of the most idealistic directors, always making a film about our current state of culture in America. The scenes he directs where we find ourselves in the “secret” meetings at the Federal Reserve where the banks are all looking for a bailout are flawless. There is so much tension and suspense that’s built up through the actor’s performances. From Frank Langella slamming his fists on the table to the Fed Chair yelling, “Do you have idea what all of you have done!?”

Don’t fuck with Gordon Gekko.

Rating: 8.5/10

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Author: Frank Mengarelli

Everybody relax, Frank's here. After going to film school at Columbia College Chicago, Frank decided to underachieve with his vast knowledge of film into a career in civil service. Frank had a brief stint as a film blogger, and then he met the heterosexual love of his life, Nick Clement. The two instantly bonded over their love from everything to Terence Malick to THE EXPENDABLES films. Some of Frank's favorite filmmakers are Terence Malick, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Sylvester Stallone, Oliver Stone and Spike Lee. Some of his favorite films are THE TREE OF LIFE, STAR WARS (all of them), BAD LIEUTENANT, THE THING and ALL THAT JAZZ. Frank spends his free time with his dog Roger, collecting any Star Wars collectible he can find and trying to finish his pretentious, first person narrative novel(la), LARGE MEN IN SMALL CARS..

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