Money Monster (R) ★★½

'Money Monster' stars George Clooney, Julia Roberts and Jack O'connel Photo Credit:
‘Money Monster’ stars George Clooney, Julia Roberts and Jack O’Connell. Photo Credit: Tri-Star Pictures.

A fast-paced but ultimately forgettable thriller, despite its A-list cast and director.

It’s a horrific situation that seems all too possible these days: an unstable gunman takes a TV host hostage live on-air, straps a vest packed with explosives onto him, and demands that the cameras keep rolling until… well, we all know it’s probably not going to end peacefully. This high-stakes scenario is the focus of Money Monster, where Jack O’Connell plays Kyle Budwell, an enraged deliveryman who lost all of his money because he followed the advice of Lee Gates (George Clooney), a Jim Cramer-like financial expert who’s the star of a show that makes Mad Money look tame and low energy.

Now Kyle has his thumb on a detonator and a gun in his other hand, while Gates only has his producer Patty (Julia Roberts)—who he’s still connected to through an earpiece—and NYPD Captain Powell (Breaking Bad’s Giancarlo Esposito) to help him make it through the ordeal alive.

While it was quite amusing to see Clooney play a totally obnoxious TV host, O’Connell (who’s British in real life) went a little overboard with his New Yawk accent and it took me out of the film. I also kept wondering when Julia Roberts was going to do more than say predictable things through her headset—I can only imagine that the chance to work with Foster and her old friend George were the only reasons she took this role.

As the NYPD tries to figure out ways to save Gates without him being blown to bits, Patty attempts to stall by talking to representatives from Ibis Capital—the firm whose stock suspiciously took a nosedive and obliterated over $800 million, $60,000 of that being Kyle’s life savings. However, Ibis’s CEO Walt Camby (Dominic West, who—between this part and his lead role on Showtime’s The Affair definitely has the whole “adulterous jerk” thing down) is nowhere to be found. Instead, its Corporate Communications Officer Diane Lester (Outlander’s Caitriona Balfe) is the one stuck helping Patty track down answers that could potentially save Gates’ life.

I won’t spoil what happens, but I will say that how director Jodie Foster portrays both the media and the public’s ‘can’t-look-away’ obsession with disturbing news is spot on. Will Gates be saved? Will someone be held responsible for the supposed “trading glitch” that wiped out so much money? Will anyone remember or care after the cameras stop rolling? That last question is the one Money Monster answers most harshly. But everything that happens on the way to that answer is so by-the-numbers and predictable, the film has already lost too much steam and the statement it makes at the end is therefore nowhere near as powerful as it could have been.

I enjoyed Money Monster, but I know I won’t remember much about it a few months from now.

The Bottom-Line? Money Monster’s skewering of our media-obsessed society will certainly make you think, and it’s always fun to watch George Clooney and Julia Roberts banter on the big screen, but overall the film’s predictability is a letdown.

Cast: George Clooney (Lee Gates), Julia Roberts (Patty Fenn), Jack O’Connell (Kyle Budwell), Dominic West (Walt Camby), Caitriona Balfe (Diane Lester), Giancarlo Esposito (Captain Marcus Powell)

Credits: Directed by Jodie Foster; written by Jamie Linden, Alan DiFiore and Jim Kouf

Studio: TriStar Pictures

Run Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Erika Olson © May 13, 2016