Men Who Changed the World: Gordon Gekko

Twenty three years after Gordon Gekko commanded his most famous line: “Greed is good”, we find Gordon questionably reformed after spending time in jail; and while giving a speech to a bunch of students where he’s promoting his new book Is Greed Good? he says: “Someone once reminded me I said “Greed is good”, now it seems it’s legal.”

Gordon Gekko is one of those characters that are such a powerhouse of a villain no one would ever even think of making the case that he’s an antihero. He has no distinguishable human characteristics except for greed, disgust and lusting for more. Gordon Gekko molded the minds of the people who shaped our current economic state.

I’m not going as far as saying our current economic collapse is the responsibility of this fictional character, but I do think the character had a major influence on the younger generation of Wall Street. Gordon Gekko wants one thing: power. Every move he makes in both “Wall Street” and “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” is calculated to the exact degree. None of his moves are on impulse or irrational. He knows how to play the game.

Gordon Gekko reflects what is inside of all of us; the desire for self improvement, the lusting for more, and the human instinct to protect yourself before worrying about anything else. Gekko isn’t a caricature like Patrick Bateman, he is a reflection of real life. There are real Gordon Gekko’s in the world, there are those who hold the livelihoods of many, many people and without any compassion would ruin people’s lives to not only make a profit, but also to wreck it because it’s “wreckable”.

What keeps us from despising the shit out of this character is the fact that Oliver Stone cast the charismatic and talented Michael Douglas. To add on top of the casting of Douglas, Gordon Gekko is given great lines of dialogue in both films, they are memorable and they make want to do a fist pump.

Quotes from “Wall Street”

  • “Lunch is for wimps.”
  • “When I get a hold of the son of a bitch who leaked this, I’m gonna tear his eyeballs out and I’m gonna suck his fucking skull.”
  • “You’re walking around blind without a cane pal. A fool and his money are lucky enough to get together in the first place.”
  • “What’s worth doing is worth doing for money.”
  • “I’m gonna make you rich Bud Fox.”
  • “Every battle is won before it’s fought.”
  • “The most valuable commodity I know of is information.”
  • “You see that building? I bought that building ten years ago. My first real estate deal. Sold it two years later, made an $800,000 profit. It was better than sex. At the time I thought that was all the money in the world. Now, it’s a day’s pay.”
  • “Jesus! If this guy owned a funeral parlor – nobody would die! This turkey is totally brain dead!”
  • “Money never sleeps pal.”
  • “Greed – for lack of a better word – is good.”

Quotes from “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”

  • “It’s not about the money. It’s about the game.”
  • “Someone once reminded me I once said “Greed is good”. Now it seems it’s legal. Because everyone is drinking the same Kool Aid.”
  • “Why don’t you start calling me Gordon.”
  • “Money is a lying bitch pal, she sleeps with one eye open, and before you know it – you wake up the next morning and she’s gone.”
  • “They took my life – and when I got out who’s waiting for me? Nobody!”
  • “Payback. Expect I’m not in that business anymore; because the one thing I learned in jail is that money is not the prime asset in life. Time is.”
  • “It’s easy to get in – it’s hard to get out.”
  • “I’ll stop telling the truth about you when you stop telling lies about me.”

Watching Gordon Gekko deliver these lines is one of the most masculine things I have seen on screen. Gordon Gekko is the definition of masculinity. The way Gekko says these lines is just so sharp, and so threatening. He has this confident air about him, because he knows that he is the man. The power that Gordon Gekko wields is far more powerful than an army or one man’s strength. You may be able to pull a thing or two over on Gekko, but he will eventually win, and he will destroy you, no matter what it takes. He will win.

Gordon Gekko finds himself in an ideal position. He is hated and feared, but we do in fact need him. The new film shows us the repercussions of Gekko’s influence. The film doesn’t blame the popping of the housing bubble on Gekko directly – he’s too smart to have done something like this. He would have known a disaster like this was going to happen. Instead the film shows us how this housing market crash is the fault of the ideology of Gordon Gekko. How when men not half as smart as Gordon Gekko use his playbook but aren’t intelligent enough, or patient enough to succeed.

The reason that there are Gordon Gekko’s is because they stabilize things, they stabilize the market. They realize if they make too many errors, that they will fall with the stock market. They are greedy and emotionless, but they are the ones who have to be in control of not only the American economy but of the world economy.

I think Gordon Gekko has a lot of parallels with Sadam Hussein. They both are truly awful human beings. They have caused an astronomical amount of atrocity and pain; but they are needed for one reason and one reason only. Stabilization. Hussein was stripped of most of his power during the first Gulf War, but he was left in power because he ruled his country with an iron fist. He kept the region of Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia stable. Now that he’s been removed from power – it has created a power vacuum in the region.

You can also make the case that not only is the housing market crash in the film due to Gekko’s influence but also that maybe if Gekko wasn’t in prison for eight years, that this problem could have been avoided. Once Gekko was out of the picture there wasn’t that sound and solid voice to put a stop to the subprime lones. Gekko would have stopped it.

We – for lack of a better word – need Gordon Gekko.

“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

“A fool and his money are lucky enough to get together in the first place.”

I just wanted to take a quick break from NCAA March Madness and share the cover of the new issue of Vanity Fair. I saw this and bought it without hesitation. This literally gave me a boner. I am so excited about Michael Douglas returning as Gordon Gekko in “Money Never Sleeps”. The film is either going to be almost as good as the first, or land horribly on its face and should never have been made. With everyone seeing “Wall Street” in the 80’s and wanting to be Gekko – look how we turned out. If Michael Douglas sitting and being surrounded by bricks and bricks of gold doesn’t turn you on – I don’t know what does.

Pick up the new issue of Vanity Fair, it’s in stores now.

2010 films that have me JAZZERSIZED!

Let us look forward!

In no particular order:

“The Expendibles”

How could an action film with Sylvester Stallone, Mickey Rourke, Steve Austin, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Jason Stratham (ehh), Eric Roberts and cameos by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis suck that bad?

“Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”

This is the film I’m most skeptical of. I love Oliver Stone, but “The World Trade Center” I thought was a disaster of a film, and “W” could have been epically great (it’s still enjoyable). Even though I’m leery of Shia LeBeauf in the film, the fact it takes place in our current economic climate and has Michael Douglas, Charlie Sheen and Martin Sheen returning has me very excited. The addition of Frank Langella and Josh Brolin is equally as great along with Carey Mulligan. I was hoping Stone would also bring back Terrence Stamp, John C. McGinley and Hal Holbrook too.

“The Tree of Life”

Terrence Malick directing a 1950’s period piece about a boy witnessing “the loss of innocence” with Sean Penn (again!) and Brad Pitt. ‘Nough said!

Jeff Bridges' artwork for "True Grit".

“True Grit”

The Coen Brother’s making a western! A real western reuniting them with Jeff Bridges! I feel a sixth Oscar nomination for Bridges on this one. In addition to Bridges the Coen’s also bring Josh Brolin, Matt Damon and Barry Pepper to the table.

“Tron: Legacy”

Jeff Bridges in a new Tron movie… As if the special effects in the original film weren’t groundbreaking enough!

“Iron Man 2”

Robert Downey, Jr. is back as Tony Stark! This time he’s battling Mickey Rourke as a tattooed Russian who builds his own Iron Man suit. Hott! I want to make a prediction here that I told my friends Kevin and Peyton about after viewing the trailer for “Iron Man 2”, Mickey Rourke will get a nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

“Fair Game”

The story of Valerie Wilson’s (Naomi Watts) outing as a covert CIA Agent by the Bush administration because her husband, Ambassador Joe Wilson (played by Sean Penn) a registered Republican, spoke the truth in his report about Saddam Hussein not trying to purchase weapons of mass destruction.

“Love Ranch”

Taylor Hackford directing his wife Helen Mirren as the wife of Joe Pesci who play the couple that open the first legal brothel in Nevada, and it’s based on a true story.


Robert Rodriguez making a feature length film from his “Grindhouse” trailer with the best cast I’ve ever seen: Danny Trejo, Jessica Alba, Lindsey Lohan, Steven Segal, Don Johnson, Jeff Fahey and Robert DeNiro.

“Company Men”

A film about corporate America with Ben Affleck, Kevin Costner, Chris Cooper and Tommy Lee Jones. Awesome.

“The Special Relationship”

The film examines the relationship between President Bill Clinton (Dennis Quaid) and Hillary (Julianne Moore) with Tony Blair (Michael Sheen for his third portrayal as Blair).