Movie Review: Money Monster
Wild on entertainment, the flamboyant financial guru doles out stock tips while pulling out dance and boxing moves. Directing the show is a rational head, Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts, “Mirror Mirror“), although it’s clear that the weary director is looking for a change.
One day, the ‘it’ stock, Ibis Clear Capital, that Lee pumped up, crashed and lost $800 million in value overnight. That day is not just another shenanigan-filled show. A man, Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell), enraged that he lost his entire life savings bet on the stock, slips into the studio as a delivery driver and takes Lee hostage. He forces the crew to keep the camera rolling or he would shoot Lee and blow up the entire building. Kyle makes Lee strapped with a bomb vest on his chest and he has his finger on the trigger.
Initially Lee offers to replace Kyle his life savings, $60K. Diane Lester (Caitriona Balfe), Ibis PR, proposes to double his money, but Kyle refuses. He asserts that he just wants to be heard and demands answers about what really happened. Meanwhile, Ibis CEO, Walt Camby (Dominic West), who was scheduled to appear on the show, is nowhere to be found. It’s said that the hotshot chief is on the plane and unreachable. Balfe’s character, not just a pretty persona, ends up playing a bigger role in helping to uncover the real story.
On stage and in the control room, the scenes are chaotic and filled with fright. Clooney shows moments of smugness, panic, cluelessness, confusion, realization and empathy, being a victim and also hostage negotiator. Roberts is the voice of reason, sanely manages to keep the show on the air as the high-stake drama unfolds live – and they’re not without tiny twists. She provides life-saving tips as the co-negotiator, as well as turning into an investigative journalist, working with a network of outside people to find out the truth. O’Connell does his part; dogged, upset, frustrated and resigned to his fate.
While there’s a populist distrust because of the greed of Wall Street and corrupt government entities, Kyle is not a very sympathetic character, so it’s not easy to personally root for him per se. Although we’re all looking for that payoff. Is the system rigged? Is there a conspiracy? What about a cover-up?
In the end, the high-frequency trading system, ‘quant’ and ‘algo’ terms thrown around in the movie are not laid out for the laypeople. It’s almost irrelevant whether the entire thing makes sense.
The Jodie Foster-directed “Money Monster” is not “The Big Short.” Not by a long shot. So you’re not going to be enlightened, but you may just be entertained. “Money Monster” is a ticking clock action thriller; nothing more.