Cannes Review: Oliver Stone's Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
by Alex Billington
May 15, 2010
One of the big premieres in Cannes that I was really looking forward to this year was for Oliver Stone's Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, his sequel to the classic 1987 stock market film Wall Street. Considering its now 23 years later and we're in a new economic recession, the film feels very much like a fresh, modern take on the Wall Street idea but wrapped around the economic troubles of today, which will instantly anger and distance some critics who don't like looking into that world. But that doesn't mean it's not an enjoyable film with fantastic performances all around and a stellar script from one of the best screenwriters working today.
The script I'm talking about is the one co-written by the extremely talented Allan Loeb and Stephen Schiff. It wasn't flawless, but it was incredibly fresh and a perfect look at the stock market and bailout world while all wrapped up in an interesting familial story. As you may have picked up from the trailers, Shia LaBeouf (who is really the main character) plays a brilliant young investor who is dating Gordon Gekko's daughter, but she hates her father and has stayed as far from him as possible since he went to jail. She knows he can't change and is still the same stealing, conniving bastard as before and that landed him in jail years ago, tearing apart their family. But of course, he's back now and wants to get into the game again, but doesn't have any money.
Anyway, without getting too much into the plot (I'm one of those people who thinks it's best to watch it all unfold in front of you), I really liked Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. It's not perfect, there are a few issues and some very quirky, odd directorial choices, including a cheesy "ghost" character, documentary-like news footage of the stock market crashes over the last few years, and some super cheesy transitions, but overall it works well. For someone who's fought only robots for the last few years, LaBeouf delivers an impressive performance that carries the movie, and of course, it's a real delight to see Michael Douglas back as Gekko.
I loved the script because I could get lost in the story and relationships and characters through brilliantly written dialogue and stock market lingo that was above my level. Just because I didn't always understand it, doesn't mean I must write it off, so I sat back and enjoyed the story as presented. It's not as polished as the original Wall Street script and it feels a little front heavy, as in I would've liked to see more of the story that pops up near the end (I'm not going to ruin it), but I don't have many qualms with Wall Street 2. There are a few cameos to look out for, including one from Charlie Sheen and even Oliver Stone. It's the performances and script that rule this film, from Carey Mulligan to Frank Langella, so just sit back and enjoy the ride!