Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (PG-13) ★★★

Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) and young Wall Street trader
Jake Moore (Shia LaBeouf) come to an understanding.

You Won’t Sleep Through This One

Oliver Stone, director of Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, is beginning to grow on me. Yes, I’m even a bit surprised myself by this turn of events. And − yes, his imprint can clearly be seen in every frame of the film; but that doesn’t matter, what does matter is that, I really liked the film. The cast is excellent; the script is smart (one that provides reasons for the economic meltdown of 2008 in laypersons terms), the editing is tight and the superb acting and the direction by Stone all make this a winner in my book. Not to mention the fact that David Byrne from the ultra-talented musical group, Talking Heads comprises much of the soundtrack. Michael Douglas reprises his role as Gordon Gekko that earned him an Oscar in 1987 and Shia LeBeouf (Disturbia, 2007; Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, 2008) stars as a trader that is making millions without Gekko’s help. Enter Eli Wallach (The Ghost Writer, 2010; The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, 1966), Josh Brolin (Milk, 2008), Carey Mulligan (An Education, 2009), Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking,1995) and the ever amazing Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon, 2008) and you’ve got a winner of a film.

The film starts 7 years later in 2001, after the ending of the original Wall Street film. As a somber, 5 o’clock apparent shadowed, Gordon Gekko is released from a Federal prison in which he served time for securities security fraud, money laundering and racketeering. Technology has advanced very quickly these past 7 years, as his cell phone is the size of a field walkie-talkie from the retro ‘80s. No one shows up to meet him. He mistakenly thinks that a limo has arrived to pick him up, only to be shoved aside by a newly released rapper. Yes, times have changed, but one thing that hasn’t (as the film points out) is people’s greed, for money and material possessions. In fact, greed has gotten worse in many ways.

‘Greed is Good,’ Gordon’s motto, so to speak and the time is perfect for Gekko to get back to business, but first he’d like to mend some fences with his daughter, Winnie, played superbly by Carrie Mulligan. LeBeouf plays Jake Moore a young trader who is making millions on his own accord. He and Winnie are living together and − headed for marriage, as they are very much in love. We soon find out that Jake’s mentor, played by Frank Langella, wakes up one morning, strokes his wife’s hand and purposely steps in front of a subway train. His firm was reduced to nothing after vicious rumors were spread by the loathsome Bretton James played by Josh Brolin.

Jake is determined to bring Bretton, (he’s changed his name back from Bret to Bretton) down and goes after him with everything he’s got, including Gekko’s devious mind. You see, Jake makes the initial contact with Gekko after hearing a lecture centering on his new book and he was very impressed by the shocking money hungry oration. A deal was struck immediately, Jake would help smooth things over with his daughter and Gekko would help shatter Bretton’s economic world. As the film unfolds, we’re really not sure if Jake has made a deal with a remorseful aging man or the devil himself.

During a tense scene in which Winnie walks abruptly out of a dinner with her estranged father, a worried Jake follows her and she says to him, “My father will hurt us, Jake.”
Has Gordon Gekko changed? Or is he still the greedy monster that will rise again at everyone else’s expense; using people like pawns to get want he wants? That’s the hook of, Wall Street: Never Sleeps, we really don’t know until the end of the film.

Bottom-line: Entertaining, well cast, well acted and very well directed.

Sarah Adamson © September 25, 2010