You don’t need to be a Wall Street guru to appreciate Money Monster. You just need to be someone who has a few bruises and broken bones from what the world has done to working people in the last 10 years.
George Clooney stars as Lee Gates – a buffoonish financial guru who hosts a loud, boorish program on the Financial News Network. Part Warren Buffet and part Jerry Springer, Lee is big on flash as he touts the latest stocks and gyrates around the set with some dancers, kooky graphics and even worse sound effects. This is why director Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts) has found a new job, but she has a few more days left here in Gomorrah.
Of course, today isn’t like every other day.
A massive computer glitch has caused a hot stock to tank, and Lee is supposed to be joined by the company’s wunderkind CEO, Walt Camby (Dominic West), who has gone AWOL. Instead, Lee is greeted by a disgruntled delivery man, Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell), who is taking the studio hostage and straps a bomb to our affable host.
Kyle isn’t leaving until he gets some answers as to why the stock shockingly dropped, and why he lost every penny he has.
Money Monster is a very good action thriller with writers Jamie Linden, Alan DiFiore and Jim Kouf tossing in twist after twist to keep the audience off guard with pleasant and entertaining surprises. Pair that with director Jodie Foster setting a crackling pace as the movie unfolds in real time, and Money Monster is a winner.
Sure, some developments won’t come as a surprise. Lee decides to start practicing the kind of journalism he should have been in engaging in the whole time. The CEO isn’t AWOL for innocent reasons. You kind of know where this train is heading from the opening moments, but the ride is fun.
Clooney delivers a typical strong Clooney performance as we watch him transform Lee from a cocky, arrogant loner to a man scared for his life to a reporter determined to find out the truth behind the web of lies he bought into, while Roberts gets to be great again.
Instead of seeing the rote, soulless performance she gave in Mother’s Day, she comes to life here as the put upon director/producer who has to take charge of a situation no one could ever prepare for. Roberts brings depth and credibility to a character who easily could have become as stereotypically over-the-top and ridiculous as all of the other moments where Money Monster becomes a parody and condemnation of television and society.
Meanwhile, Foster does a wonderful job creating a mélange of emotions as the audience experiences the events on screen. We have sympathy for Kyle, yet, have good reasons to lose some respect for him. We fear for Lee and Patty, yet, get to laugh at their sometimes comedic reactions. Most of all, we root for the bad guys to get the comeuppance they have avoided in real life.
Money Monster is a more than solid film for those adults who don’t own a Captain America costume.
3 Waffles (Out of 4)
Money Monster is rated R for language throughout, some sexuality and brief violence.