Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

After nearly a decade in prison, guards have given Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) back his gold watch, his gold ring, his gold money clip and his freedom. Watch out world. Flash-forward seven years to 2008 and Gekko’s written a book, Is Greed Good?, and become the hero of the lecture circuit with his fanged tirades about a financial system gone bonkers. He’s still a wolf in wolf’s clothing. The question is: How big is his hunger? Gekko’s the predator circling Oliver Stone’s sequel. The stars—or prey—are his estranged daughter Carey Mulligan and her live-in boyfriend Shia LaBeouf, an idealistic trader trying to scare up money for alternative energy. Stone’s two major themes (three if you count the nods to his 1987 original) are bubbles and extinction, two ways Wall Street could have—and should have?—collapsed that fall of ’08 when Americans learned we’d double-mortgaged the foundation of our country. The first half of the film is as fine a movie as you’ll see all year. Stone humanizes ticker tape. Frank Langella is the face of old-style trading, Josh Brolin is the new-style villain, and their confrontations with other suits have the frisson of powerful deals and the pleasure of a pack of hunters fighting over a kill. They’re in it because money is glory and glory is fun—and the bloodier the better. But Stone needs Hollywood hyenas; our stock market schadenfreude demands a satisfying ending. Only how can he give us one when we know the bad guys won?

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