Customer Reviews

280
4.5 out of 5 stars
Too Big to Fail
Format: DVDChange
Price:$14.16 + Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

108 of 114 people found the following review helpful
In the realm of made-for-TV movies, there is no question that HBO has been leading the way with critically acclaimed and Emmy nominated fare within recent years. Why? They simply have made an effort to be a prestige label and to support and produce edgier, more sophisticated entertainment--oftentimes projects that you can't imagine any other network or studio championing. Turning Andrew Ross Sorkin's provocative chronology "Too Big To Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System--and Themselves" into a film version seemed like a somewhat dubious idea. Financial crisis as entertainment isn't the most comfortable notion, and yet the story is rife with drama and intrigue. Curtis Hanson's (L.A. Confidential) riveting docu-drama chronicles the pivotal period in 2008 where the United States, and indeed the world, faced an insurmountable financial collapse. As we still feel the devastating repercussions and are still exposed to the some of the same risk, this makes "Too Big To Fail" a must-see project for serious minded and adult audiences.

Centered around Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson (William Hurt, who we will be seeing around Emmy time), the film charts the period when Lehman Brothers was spiraling into bankruptcy and how the government's decision not to bail them out exacerbated a worldwide crisis with AIG. Like a house of cards, the tenuous balance of the economic system was in danger of toppling unless some major moves and compromises could be made. Introducing a huge cast of characters, the narrative puts Paulson at the center of the action as he wrestles to maintain an overall financial stability. As a dramatic recreation and interpretation of events, this plays as a blow-by-blow thriller. Even though you might be aware of the outcome, it doesn't lessen the film's brisk pace or unrelenting intensity. Seriously, I found this to be edge of your seat exciting as well as enlightening. Truly an important piece for the time in which we live.

Aside from Hurt's stellar work (his best performance in years), the film boasts an oily and uncompromising turn by James Wood as the Lehman CEO and an increasingly desperate portrayal of the President of the Federal Reserve Bank by a great Billy Crudup. In addition to these larger roles, the film boasts the most impressive cast of the year with Paul Giamatti, Ed Asner, Bill Pullman, Topher Grace, Cynthia Nixon, Tony Shalhoub, Matthew Modine, Kathy Baker and many other familiar faces. Smart, provocative, chilling, literate, and most of all, incredibly entertaining--I highly recommend "Too Big To Fail" as one of the year's best dramas produced for television. In truth, I didn't expect to be as engaged and involved as I became. Anticipating a somewhat dry history lesson, HBO has instead served up an irresistible and important contemporary thriller. Don't miss it. KGHarris, 5/11.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon July 14, 2011
This is a must see... along with Inside Job.

The story is incredible... One caution: it's tough to keep all the players straight. I had to watch it a number of times in order to follow the cast of characters. You'll need to have time when you can concentrate to watch it.

It's a tale of tumbling dominos.... you'll be shocked at how the key players were not at all in front of what was happening. The story is incredible, complemented by excellent acting and a great cast.

Inside Job gives a longer term view of some of the same players (please see my review)... and their relationships before, during, and after the crisis. Shocking!

I hope this is helpful.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
45 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2011
Great film. Anyone that has money invested needs to watch this film. I have it saved on my DVR so I can show everyone this film. There was very little party lines and for some they just want to blame Bush for everything or now Obama. But in the movie there is very little about the president. A very great cast. The true story had me from the first minute. I can say I am happy that HBO did not go to the Republican and Democrats. Very Very Good.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2012
"Wall street has a gambling problem and the government keeps covering thier losses. They never learn anything." In 2008 the United States economy began to crumble. Bank after bank began to fail and Lehman Brothers (the 4th largest) was on the ropes. Secretary of Treasury Hank Paulson (Hurt), Federal reserve chairman Ben Bernanke (Giamatti) and New York Fed President Tim Geithner (Crudup) all are working to try and save it. They more they find out the worse it gets and they are left with a decision to save the country or the bank. But the answer isn't as easy as it sounds. I know what your thinking. Another movie about this, hasn't there been enough? Normally I would agree but this one had Paul Giamatti so I had to watch it. This one stands far above the other ones made about the crisis and also is pretty impressive in the way it is presented. This movie made the crisis and the reasons for what was done simple enough for me to understand. Unlike the others this one is about how the government handled it and not the Wall Street CEO's which is why I didn't want to throw stuff at the TV as much. This movie was all the more impressive in the way that it really made the government the good guy in this whole mess and made you side with them. Which is almost impossible to do these days. This to me has been the best movie made about the crisis. Overall, if you watch one movie about the meltdown and the economic crisis make it this one. I recommend this. I say A.
11 commentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
I have had friends ask me to explain credit default swaps (CDS). In Too Big To Fail (TBTF) it was the first time, including the Congressional Hearings, where I have ever heard CDS's explained in layman terms.

I am the first to admit that I find non-fiction much more palatable when wrapped around a good story. What TBTF does is to almost perfectly cast a star studded ensemble around a really good story.

I loved the characterizations of John Mack by Tony Shalhoub ("Cover your ears. Tell Tim Geithner to bl.w me!"), Lloyd Blankfein by Evan Handler ("You are stepping out of a limo going to the Federal Reserve and not a Higgins Boat storming Omaha Beach" and Jim Wilkinson by Topher Grace ("and we all know how well the Post Office works!"). Honorable mention to James Woods (Dick Fuld) & Billy Crudup (Tim Geithner).

IMHO, the real value of TBTF is in it's illustration of the multiple levels of incompetence:

1.) Despite having more employees than many private sector corporations, neither the Treasury, Federal Reserve or SEC knew that the British Banking Regulators had to approve any merger by Barclay's. BTW, this oversight was further compounded by Treasury steadfastly refusing to backstop Lehman for the 30-days it would take for a Barclay's share holder vote

2.) Dick Fuld walking into a meeting with a Korean bank that had already agreed to take a stake in Lehman sans their "toxic: real estate. Fuld wanted the suitor to take another look at the real estate, which caused a loss of "face" and killed the deal

3.) See #1. Not knowing how long it would take to enact the proposed toxic asset buy back program (AKA "Cash for Trash")

4.) Forcing healthy banks to take money that they didn't need as "cover" for the banks that needed the money. This not only didn't fool anyone, but the verbiage was insufficient to require that the banks actually lend the money, which they for the most part didn't do

In sum. Great cast and a very good story about what went on behind the scenes at a time when the financial system was on the verge of collapse
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
HBO has come up with another controversial film that contains views that all of us should ponder. TOO BIG TO FAIL is based on the very long book by Andrew Ross Sorkin that stunned the country with its moment by moment details of how the financial meltdown of 2008 when at the end of President Bush's term the powerful battle between the backs and lending institutions of Wall Street imploded requiring a government bailout to avert a global financial disaster. The story was adapted for the screen by Peter Gould and directed at breakneck speed by Curtis Hanson, allowing the public to not only see the institutions involved in this scandal but also introduce the players from all parts of the battlefield disclosing details we did not know and the gradual history of the financial mess that had been brewing at the public's expense for years.

The film is populated with major actors portraying the big names and while there are clips of President Bush, Warren Buffet and others taken form the CNN newsreels, the big names in the film include such extremely memorable performances as William Hurt as Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Billy Crudup as Federal Reserve of NY President Timothy Geithner, Paul Giamati as Ben Bernanke, Topher Grace as Paulson's Chief of Staff Jim Wilkinson, James Wood as Lehman Brothers CEO Dick Fuld, Matthew Modine as CIT CEO John Thain, Tony Shalhoub as CEO of Morgan Stanley John Mack, Bill Pullman as CEO of JP Morgan Chase Jamie Dimon, Ed Asner as Warren Buffett, Victor Slezak as CEO of Bank of America Greg Curl, Ajay Mehta as CEO of Citigroup Vikram Pandit, Michael O'Keefe as JC Flowers, as Barney Frank of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mack scandal, Nancy Pelosi as Nancy Pelosi, and Cynthia Nixon as the PR for Paulson Michele Davis.

Each member of this huge cast plays very well, with special kudos to William Hurt, Billy Crudup, and James Wood. Each character is believable but the problem with the film is that it moves past our eyes so quickly with fleeting identifiers of who each actor is portraying that it is next to impossible to keep the players straight. There is a lot of information and so many board meetings and long work hours that even though the viewer an appreciate the rising calamity and the impact it has globally, it at times becomes word soup. Even the film's opening credits pack so much information so quickly that we are dizzy before the story starts. Is that a problem with the film or with our lack of insider information of how we came so close to the biggest financial disaster since the Great Depression? Probably both. Perhaps multiple screenings of this film will allow the audience to catch up tot he speed of what is truly a remarkable docudrama of a harrowing time for this country and the world. It is very much worth spending time with this terrifying movie. Grady Harp, May 11
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 10, 2012
I'd been disappointed in Curtis Hanson's work since "LA Confidential." None of the movies lived up to that film. This film does. Hanson gets the most out of his actors and tells a story that unfolds every bit the thriller "LA Confidential" was. He avoids the popular "Wall Street crashed America" meme by presenting these guys without judgement and neither showing them in a positive or negative light. We understand what it is these people do and why they made the decisions they did. No one other than Dick Fuld (James Woods in a knock-out performance) comes across as a villain, although Hank Paulsen comes across as the man who saved America. Hanson feels the story needs a hero and he gives us one. People should leave this movie with a better understanding of how Wall Street works and that they aren't the two dimensional characters they're depicted as. Hanson takes great care to not have Paulsen and his staff identified with a political party. They aren't Republicans Democrats can hate or vice versa. They're people trying to solve the crisis. By avoiding policy Hanson has created a more accessible film.

To depict Paulsen as such a hero, Hanson needed an actor who could deliver. William Hurt is rarely thought of the guy who immediately becomes the biggest man in the room. Hurt delivers a performance where you can tell what he's saying without the actor talking. I've seen William Hurt in countless movies, but here I only saw Hank Paulsen.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on July 15, 2014
Hello. Is it worth the time to view this film? YES. Is this film an unbiased portrayal of what happened to the US financial system in 2008? NO.

Too Big To Fail is an entertaining drama, BUT it is just that, a drama, not a documentary. You cannot take everything you see in this film to the bank. The movies made about the financial crisis fall into one of two categories; reenactment drama / documentary. Be aware which category the movies you choose to watch regarding this event fall into. This reenactment is well acted (a blessing as well as a curse), it paints a picture of who some of the key players were -during the crisis but not necessarily leading up to the crisis- and it describes a few of the elements that triggered the events (though the actual explanation of what created the crisis is lacking). But when unrecorded conversations that took place behind closed doors are scripted by someone who wasn't there, and character attributes are assigned to actors playing key people in positions of great power, truth sometimes becomes a casualty of drama, not to mention any (well intentioned or otherwise) agenda by the book author / film maker that creeps in. Watching this production is an exercise of separating the wheat from the chaff.

If you want to view an actual documentary that depicts the events as they occurred check out "Inside Job". This production interviews the actual people working in the industry at the time (or at least the ones willing to appear on camera, which in and of itself is telling).

To further illustrate the point let's take one player as an example; Treasury Secretary Henry [Hank] Paulson. In Too Big to Fail, Hank Paulson is portrayed as a caring, compassionate man caught up in events he had no hand in creating. Inside Job, however, airs actual video tape of Paulson speaking, and the impression one gets from noting his behavior on camera is a bit different from the Too Big To Fail characterization. Aging but still handsome actor William Hurt portrays an integrous, nurturing Hank Paulson in Too Big. Is that the real Paulson? Did Paulson's tenure at investment bank Goldman Sachs not contribute to the crisis? We have some quotes from Wiki that tend to counter the Hank Paulson portrayed in Too Big:

1) In April 2007, he delivered an upbeat assessment of the economy, saying growth was healthy and the housing market was nearing a turnaround. "All the signs I look at" show "the housing market is at or near the bottom," Paulson said in a speech to a business group in New York. The U.S. economy is "very healthy" and "robust," Paulson said.

2) On August 10, 2008, Secretary Paulson told NBC's Meet the Press that he had no plans to inject any capital into Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. On September 7, 2008, both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac went into conservatorship.

3) Time Magazine has Paulson as one of the "25 People to Blame for the Financial Crisis".

None of this comes out in Too Big.

Inside Job further points out that Paulson supported lifting the leverage limits on Investment banks (which made the problem far worse), as well as resisting regulation of the issuance of insurance policies (CDSs) that broke the back of AIG (the institution which had to be bailed out by the Federal government). I would add that Paulson is on record in support of a major law put on the books known as the 'Dodd-Frank' bill. What does this mean? It is pretty much agreed that what enabled the 2008 financial crisis was the repeal of a post 1930s depression law that for over half a century had kept banks from doing precisely what they did that caused the crisis (along with unregulated derivatives). The law was referred to as Glass-Steagall and was repealed in 1999. You can draw a direct line from the repeal of Glass-Steagall to the near failure of the US financial system in 2008. Yet, rather than simply put Glass-Steagall back on the books, law makers passed the monstrously sized, never read by any politician, Dodd-Frank bill instead. Result? Today the financial system is more highly leveraged than it was in 2008. Nothing has been fixed under Dodd-Frank. So what's the deal with Paulson? Is he a professional liar, inept, deluded, ill-educated, corrupt? I don't know. It's just that to answer that question we need more than what Too Big gives us. I would recommend watching 'Hank: Five Years From the Brink', a interview based documentary focusing exclusively on Hank Paulson's point of view on the crisis. His demeanor tends to reflect what William Hurt put forth in Too Big, and he convincingly explains away the charges related to him saying one thing and then doing something else. Yet there seems to a few pieces missing from his story. All in all I would say 'Hank' is well worth viewing.

By the way, if you want to watch a pure dramatization of the financial crisis that does not spin the players into looking like innocents who are nobly trying to keep the train on the track, check out Margin Call. Although the film depicts a fictitious event (a composite of actual people and events, really), the story is very real in its depiction of the temptation, rationalization, greed, hubris, and braggadocio that allowed such dangerous bets to be placed with YOUR money.

---------------
Note: This whole topic is not past history... it is current events unfolding in an extended timeline. The stage is set for this too happen again, albeit in a different form.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 8, 2012
I don't watch many movies and I don't watch many that I would recommend to people, but this gets my highest accolades. It's compelling and frightening at the same time. If you are semi-literate or better, you will like this film; if not, you'd best stick with an Adam Sandler or Chevy Chase movie. I saw the PBS Frontline program about saving the banks and the economy, but this one, since it does certainly take some poetic license--but likely not much--is a dandy drama! The cast, too, is flawless. John Hurt as Henry Paulson, is perfect in the lead role. Paul Giamatti is good as Bernanke, but he's still Paul Giamatti. The supporting cast as mostly greedy, venal bank CEOs is superb, especially Tony Shalhoub as John Mack, who will be familiar from "Monk." Even though you know how it's going to end, it's still chilling! High fives for the director, original book from which it was made and the cast.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 9, 2012
Not many of us common folk are able to, or care to understand what exactly happened during the financial crisis. This movie does a fairly good job of trying to explain it and does so in a way that is entertaining and doesn't put people instantly to sleep! While it may not be completely accurate, it is a great start and I believe the average person finishes the movie knowing more than they did at the beginning. And you just have to love Paul as Ben Bernanke!

Great Film!
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
     
 
Customers who viewed this also viewed
Inside Job
Inside Job by Matt Damon (DVD - 2011)
$6.99

Margin Call
Margin Call by Kevin Spacey (DVD - 2011)
$5.93

 
     

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.

Your Recently Viewed Items and Featured Recommendations 
 

After viewing product detail pages, look here to find an easy way to navigate back to pages you are interested in.