Michael Douglas and Shia LaBeouf star in Olvier Stone’s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. Douglas returns to the role in which he gave an Oscar winning performance, Gordon Gekko whos iconic “Greed is good” mantra and daring corporate raids made him a rock star of financial titans. Emerging from a lengthy prison stint, Gekko finds himself on the outside of a world he once dominated. He now has to play catch up and redefine himself in a different era. He has to become relevant again, while a young, idealistic investment banker learns the hard way that Gekko is still a master of his art, and if there’s once place where you can redefine yourself, one place where your relevance is only one deal away, it’s Wall Street.
Oliver Stone returns to his iconic character from the 1987 film ‘Wall Street’ in ‘Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps’, with Michael Douglas returning to the role of Gordon Gekko. ‘Money Never Sleeps’ is quite a different film to its predecessor, focusing on the relationships of the central characters set against a backdrop of global financial turmoil, with the trading deals and investment aspects taking a less prolific role than in the original.
The shift in feel from the first film can be somewhat unexpected, especially if you’re looking for something to recapture the essence of the original, ‘Money Never Sleeps’ has its own feel and its own story to tell.
Oliver Stone takes his time with this film, with the story being on a slow burn from beginning to end. This approach leaves the film prone to being quite flat at times yet manages to remain interesting enough to hold your attention. With a running time of over two hours, despite its slow pace there is quite a lot which happens and the strong direction manages to weave the various arcs together flowing naturally into one another.
The cast are all sound without any real stand out moments, the script isn’t dramatically compelling yet like other aspects of the film it is interesting and provides the actors with some depth and substance to build their performances on. Michael Douglas and Shia LaBeouf build a strong onscreen presence which works well between them, Frank Langella, Josh Brolin , Susan Sarandon and Carey Mulligan all provide good performances when given their moments.
The final act did feel slightly anti-climatic, and even counterproductive to some of the events earlier in the film, without discussing specifics it didn’t feel as if it quite delivered on resolving some of the character arcs in the film, or at least progressing them to a satisfying end point. This could be debated as being reflective of the essence of the characters but I would have liked to see that aspect play out a little more in terms of their relationships with each other.
The underlying setting of Wall Street itself, and the economic environment in which the film takes place, never really takes centre stage in the film, more serving to drive along key plot elements impacting the characters. While this works well, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed it wasn’t given more attention, especially due to this being a Wall Street film, which you’d expect to give some emphasis on the financial crisis of recent years.
There can be a negative stigma associated with sequels that are filmed and released many years after the previous instalment. ‘Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps’ shouldn’t be regarded in such a way, the character of Gekko remains true to his roots and the film is enjoyable on its own merits.
I give the film 3 out of 5 stars, it opens Australian wide on Thursday 23rd September.