106 of 125 people found the following review helpful
on December 18, 2010
I've worked on Wall Street my whole life. The first film was cut throat Ivan Boseky insider trading and raw greed at its finest. Michael Douglas was simply riveting. I had been waiting for the sequel ever since announced. Going opening day, I was stunned after watching it the first time. Yes, Oliver Stone nails the Collapse of Wall Street in 2008 with the mortgage meltdown. Every character can be parlayed into a real life individual involved in the Bear Stearns and Lehman collapse. But the real story is about second chances in life, fighting for family, doing the right thing, commitment to work and the price paid for loyalty. Shia Labeouf (Jake Moore) is at his best when he sets out on a course of vindictive revenge after James Brolin (Bretton James) causes the "perceived" collapse of Keller Zabel(KZI) and the suicide of his mentor and KZI's leader Lou Zabel.
Michael Douglas (Gordon Gekko) and Shia Labeouf team up given that Jake is engaged to Gordon's daughter Winnie. They embark on path to understand KZI's collapse and to seek revenge, plus make a few dollars along the way for Gordon. Gordon and Jake make a series of "trades" to learn that Bretton James and his firm, Churchill Schwartz, were illegally betting on everything under the Sun to destroy KZI. Oliver Stone's attention to detail is STUNNING. Words won't do justice to the perfection of the each set. You have to know Wall Street to know that on a scale of 1 to 100, he gets a 99 because no one gets a 100. Gordon's real redemption is his name, reputation and a deep love for his family. Jake simply wants to do right by the death of Lou Zabel and persecute those respondsible. Wrap those emotions around a fast paced collapse of Wall Street, and you have a beautiful movie. Vetrans of investing will be amazed, but the film has a broad reach. One can't spoil the detail in the screen writer's brillance, but the lines are wit personified. To be "blamed for all disasters since Nintendo" speaks to taunt tone and wit. Best line of all is Gordon's---"When you stop telling lies about me, I'll stop telling the truth about you." Gordon finally does do right. One shouldn't spoil this film. I titled my review "Love, Life Family...." The last 20 minutes bring together all aspects of any excellent drama. On a personal note given Michael Douglas' condition, I will remember his 2 performances in Wall Stret with deep gratitude and always wish him good health. "Time is the most important thing in life." Well said Mr. Douglas
64 of 78 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 2010
This might not be the five star entertainment that the original was, but it's still damned good. Contrary to popular belief Gordon Gekko is there, he's just in the details. "Bulls make money, bears make money. They pigs? They get slaughtered." This is rock solid entertainment with wisdom to spare. And, it warrants MULTIPLE viewings.
And to top it off, as a former Wall Streeter who spent endless hours on the trading floor of one of the biggest brokerage firms, I can tell you that they got the details right.
54 of 66 people found the following review helpful
on December 3, 2010
** SPOILER ALERT ** Do not read if you do not want to know details **
I saw the original in the theatre in 1987 and was hoping for a sequel since then. This film was originally to be released in April 2010, but was pushed back to September 2010 as it was included in the Cannes Film Festival, and the studio probably did not want the film to get lost among the summer flotsam.
That said, this film was worth the wait. If you are an aficionado of the original, you will appreciate the homage that this film pays to it. The soundtrack features David Byrne (of Talking Heads fame, featured in the original soundtrack), Gekko bumps into Bud Fox at a party, and LaBoeuf has the same real estate broker as Fox and Darian used...the lady with the annoying voice. Upon his release from prison, Gekko is also handed his brick-sized cellphone, which gives the viewer a glimpse of just how much things have changed since the original. Would have also been nice to bring back Sean Young or Terence Stamp in some capacity. Eli Wallach had a bit part which also delivered comeuppance superbly to Brolin's character.
I think that Michael Douglas must have a clause in his contracts that require his to give at least one great speech in each of his films. For this film, it was when he addressed the college class. Stone truly delivered here, and laid the blame for the crisis exactly where it belongs, which is to say with the majority of us. The reference to the bartender who owned three houses was perfect.
The film's weaknesses are few, but still significant. Specifically, Laboeuf is miscast and comes across about as threatening as a box of facial tissues. Sheen brought a power and passion for both good and bad to the original. Laboeuf seems out of place and definitely out of his depth next to Gekko. I think James Franco would have been far more convincing. Langella was a great fit as Zweibel, but had a far too limited role. Brolin was superlative and can do evil better than most of his contemporaries. Susan Sarandon was great as Labouef's mother.
The other significant weakness in the film is in how neatly the family issues are tied up and concluded. Not unless your family is named Osmond, is atonement and forgiveness as easy as portrayed in the film. I definitely expected better in this regard.
Overall though, well worth the wait. Stone got the details correct.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2008 just before the collapse. Gordon Gekko, the man with the reptile brain in front, is back! A seriously ill Michael Douglas reprises one of his greatest roles as a Wall Street insider who used insider trading info to make a fortune and coined the phrase "Greed is Good!" before ending up for eight years in the Steel Bar Hotel. He loses it all (maybe) and is anxious to find a way to get it all back. And get back at those who put him there. But is he the major villain or not?
Shia LaBeouf stars as Jake Moore, a somewhat more scrupulous Wall Street green energy trader at Keller Zabel. Josh Broslin is Breton James the menacing Wall Street sleazebag Investment Banker who advises the Federal Reserve on what to do about another firm Keller Zabel (owned by Frank Langella's character, Lewis Zabel) who has too many toxic loans. Breton James recommends the Fed refuse lend to Keller Zabel and driving them to bankruptcy. (A story taken right from the headlines, ala Lehman Brothers, for those with limited memories). The Lewis Zabel pleads with the Fed for help, reminds them other banks also hold toxic assets and then commits suicide jumping in front of a subway after his company stock share plummets. Hypercompetitive Breton James, we find, is illegally doing insider trading, advising the Fed while shorting the Keller Zabel stock secretly from an offshore account and then buying it up for pennies on the dollar. An ancient Eli Wallach plays a Wall Street banker old enough to remember the (last) Depression.
The plot elaborate goes on and I won't say more. LaBeouf and a weepy Carey Mulligan (An Education) playing Gekko's estranged daughter present the human backdrop as Wall Street scum make themselves rich and destroy the American Economy with Collateralized Debt Obligations, toxic loans and insider trading. The Fed tries to protect what's left of the totally bankrupt American economy, when they discover no money is left in America from people borrowing money to support a lifestyle they can't afford.
See Gordon Gekko define moral hazard and Ninjas (No Income, No Job or Assets). Gekko's character switches back and forth: villain to victim to sage to hero to villain, etc, in an Academy Award worthy performance.
There is a great scene of Manhattan, Wall Street at night, skyscrapers with electric ticker tapes flowing down the streets instead of cars. There is a graphic of the English Stock Market, the FTSE price collapse plotted against the London Tower Bridge profile and the Wall Street collapse plotted against the Manhattan profile. Stone's movie presents a fascinating use of special effects.
If this movie seems wordy, Oliver Stone is nothing if not a teacher...
A timely story. Today it has taken the Fed and the past and current administration years to fix the Great Recession caused by this era (and they are still working on it). Do you ever wonder why there haven't been any fraud convictions for bankers and brokerages who commited this and the Bush officials who let them do it? Certain people want to return America to this form of predatory Capitalism. "Get the government off our (their) backs" and so they can again steal The Wealth of Nations, whatever is left. Oliver Stone reminds us of the unbridled greed that caused our current problems in the first place. Some other reviewers didn't seem to get it.
One of the best movies of the year. One of Oliver Stones best. Everyone in America should see this movie! Highly recommended.
"The definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over and expecting a different result." Einstein
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 6, 2012
A pretty amazing statistical observation of this film's reviews here on Amazon; of 167 reviews (as of 10/6/12) 20% are 5 star, 22% are 4 star, 17% are 3 star, 18% are 2 star and 22% are 1 star. These stats alone have made me (possibly) reconsider my view of this film....Seems pretty rare to find a film with such a wide range of opinions.
For my part I agree that this is a weak film, somewhere between 2 and 3 stars. I appreciate Oliver Stone, his kinetic, detailed exhibitions of masculine ambition, anger and occasional depravity are almost always watchable and layered enough to reflect a consistent world view and style. No stranger to Violence or it's more sophisticated and interesting counter, Power, his stories are usually about unlikeable people (Gekko, Barnes, U-Turn's whole cast, Savages, (can James Woods be likeable?), Nixon, Castro, Talk Radio) who can't help themselves pursuing their ambitions and temptations. I will make an effort to see his films until he craps out too much, and even then I'll give him a chance. Look at Woody Allen, lots of misses lately, but a few terrific and great films too. An artist can't hit home runs all the time; a ground out to second is inevitable now and then.
Wall Street 2 is not a good movie. Calling it Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps doesn't isolate it from the original. This is a sequel. It felt so labored and predictable, and as opposed to the first film, it wasn't of it's time, it merely tried to comment on it. I don't know which moment was worse: Charlie Sheen showing up as Bud Fox at some charitable event with two models on his arm, playing Charlie instead of Bud or the Clark Kent to Superman moment when we're told that Gecko is back in full player mode because he slicked his hair back like in the old days. These moments highlight the cheapness of Stone's direction and the sense that this was made because the opportunity presented itself, not because the story had to be told.
Certainly the financial collapse of '07-'08 will be a story motif for many years to come. The circumstances and out comes resound to this day and are scarier and more vile than the antics of Tony Montana or the drug dealers of Savages.
Josh Brolin is the best part of the movie, he can command the screen and has a hulking presence and physicality that was also memorable in American Gangster. Surely the drive that gets people to the highest floors of some of the largest buildings and businesses can't be abandoned once they are assured of their positions there. The snake can't help but eat it's tail. Sorry for another metaphor.
Carrie Mulligan is wasted as the suffering daughter of Gekko, who rebels against the family business by operating a non-profit independent journalism website. Her role is to facilitate heart, since her father has none, or not much of one or is really out of practice using it. Susan Sarandon is wasted even more. The disparity between the careers of talents like hers and comparable men is pathetic. She gets to smoke and act stupid, begging her brilliant son to save her. The women in Stone's films are usually badly drawn and either ball busters or weak. At least he is consistent though. And Shia LaBeouf, who is a better actor than Charlie Sheen for sure, just feels like another big budget American movie character; uber smart, very successful, cool and honorable. Matt Damon may have played this part 10 years before. You know, a flawless character who is a foiled by a darker, more cynical outside world that he seems surprised to discover.
Ultimately this film makes me feel more cynical about it's production than the story it aims to tell.
Here's to the 18%!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 4, 2013
I absolutely LOVE Michael Douglas, I work in the financial markets myself for a living and LOVE it! And I liked the first Wall Street film. But this Wall Street, I wouldn't even call a film! It was that bad! Absolutely no direction whatsoever and to make it worse, it was all choppy and completely drawn out. Even the general vibe of the different scenes had no consistency!! I tried to keep watching it, hoping for some kind of redemption on any level, and it JUST WASN'T there. If you haven't already seen the first one, I would recommend that. And there are a couple of other great "wall street" business films that come to mind, The Boiler Room & Rogue Trader. Both of those are about a newbee coming into the business and getting in way over his own head (one way or the other). I'd recommend those films over this one.
37 of 50 people found the following review helpful
Sometimes a movie comes along that gets mixed reviews and it may be due to something controversial or some other reason. Seeing all the bad reviews for this movie I had held off seeing it. I am a great fan of almost all the stars especially Michael Douglas and Shia LaBeouf. I finally thought how bad can it really be and ordered it on demand on cable. I am writing this review to warn everyone - with this movie it honestly is not a matter of opinion, the movie is just plain terrible. I don't get how people are going overboard criticizing the acting for there is very little for any of the actors to do. I blame this disaster on Oliver Stone and him alone. He is obviously trying to make a statement on money, its business etc. No point is made and there is no story. All the actors walk through each scene like zombies for the entire script is ridiculous. There is no emotion for the acrtors to grasp onto. The scenes where tears are shown are laughable for they are so poorly written and directed. With this movie there is no beginning, middle or end. When it was finally gratefully over I just felt like I had wasted 2 hours. I had no idea what the point of it all was. I really want to know what power Oliver Stone used to convince all these A list actors to participate in this terrible film. He has created and directed a true mess.
I very rarely write such negative reviews but I must be honest and feel people considering watching this film or even God forbid purchasing it should be warned. It is not being ridiculed for it is a bad sequel but for the mere fact that it is a bad film. Liking the actors is not enough to get through it. Avoid at all cost.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2011
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If you haven't already discovered it, Oliver Stone is a preacher. His movies always boil down to the proverbial 'us vs. them'. Back in 1987, with the release of the first 'Wall Street', there was some ambiguity in Gordon Gekko's famous phrase, "Greed is Good." Although Gekko was a bad guy, there was something charming about him, so one could still feel sorry for the rapacious financier even though he's being sent away to prison. In his later days, Stone's sense of subtlety has waned. While he still holds a great attraction to the world of wealth and privilege (after all, he is a very well off in real life), it would not be politically expedient for Stone to identify himself with the 1% crowd. Thus, the heroes of Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps are (in terms of today's nomenclature) the 99 per centers, who completely reject the "greed is good" mantra.
'Money Never Sleeps' is set in 2008, the year of the Wall Street financial meltdown. If it were today, Stone might have had Jake, his proprietary trader protagonist, hanging out for a few hours in Zuccotti Park each day. Even though Jake professes his love for the 'green', he'll only invest in progressive companies that promote alternative energy. And his girlfriend, Winnie, who also happens to be Gordon Gekko's estranged daughter, runs a small website designed to expose one percenter shenanigans. Jake's mentor at his firm, Keller Zabel Investments, is Louis Zabel, another "word is my bond" good guy amongst the wolves, who can't take the heat when the firm loses 30% of its value at the beginning of the 2008 crisis. His solution is to jump in front of a subway train after one percenter bad guy Bretton James (Josh Brolin), CEO of Keller Zabel's rival, blocks a bailout for the troubled firm .
Enter Gordon Gekko, ex-con, who wants to re-establish a bond with his daughter. He conscripts Jake by making a deal with him: if Jake can help him reconcile with Winnie then he'll provide information that can sink Brett. Jake uses information that causes Brett's' firm to lose $120 million but Brett inexplicably offers Jake a job. Jake's plan is to take revenge on the evil Brett who he holds responsible for his mentor's suicide. There is some hint that although Jake intends to undermine Brett from the beginning he's seduced by the wily CEO after Brett promises to steer a Chinese company toward investing in the fusion energy company Jake's been touting. When the economic crisis affects the firm, Brett plays it safe by promoting bunk solar panels and fossil fuels to the Chinese. Jake throws a fit when all bets are off for his fusion energy company; his 'dark moment of the soul' occurs when he blows his cover by cursing out Brett and getting himself fired.
The solution is that Gekko reveals to Jake that he's had $100 million stashed away in a Swiss bank account all along and needs for his daughter to sign the money over to Jake who will in turn hand it over to Gekko who promises to invest it all in the fusion energy company Jake's trying to save. At first, Gekko appears to be returning to form when he disappears with the $100 million and the fusion company appears to be sinking like the Titanic.
Jake's revenge plot against Brett turns wimpy when he merely gives Winnie some information that she publishes in her blog, leading to Brett's downfall. If you can believe that the unsubstantiated rumors in a small left-wing newspaper can destroy this powerful CEO, then perhaps I can sell you the Brooklyn Bridge. Whatever the case, Jake's passing of information to his girlfriend, is hardly the stuff of exciting denouements.
The ultimate wimp-out of course is Gekko's decision to join the 99 percenters by returning the $100 million to the now reconciled couple and get to see his grandchild a year later. The good guy crowd wins the day by shouting the new 2008 mantra: 'Greed is bad'. Had 'Money Never Sleeps' been filmed during the time of OWS, Stone would have had Gekko along with Jake, Winnie (and a photo of the deceased Zabel) snuggle up together inside one of the newly minted pup tents in Zuccotti Park.
Shia LaBeouf is really perfectly cast to play Jake. The actor who usually plays hotheads (and is a hothead in real life) shows himself to be more comfortable in a place like Zuccotti than inside an investment bank. In 'Money never sleeps', his rebellion takes the form of some wild riding on a motorcycle and well as cuddling with his 'greed is bad' significant other.. Carey Mulligan has little to do as liberal blogger Winnie but Josh Brolin is more enjoyable as a sinister over the top head honcho. Frank Langella is stuck in the role of the kindly mentor Louis Zabel and is too idealistic a character to be believable. Michael Douglas manages to pull off some real acting, particularly in the emotionally powerful scene when he first makes a real attempt to reconcile with Winnie. But the absurdity of Gekko suddenly reversing course at the film's climax, undermines all the good acting Douglas had done beforehand.
'Money Never Sleeps' is Oliver Stone's attempt to be accepted by his middle-class audience. There is no chance anymore that Gordon Gekko can exist as both good and bad at the same time. Gekko can now only be good in the present. The bad guy of today, the Brett's of this world, the one percenters, must be thrown under the proverbial bus. In reality, however, none of the 'villains' of the 2008 economic crisis were called to the bar of justice. Quite the contrary, they made out like bandits! Thus, Stone's comeuppance of the one percenter crowd, rings as false as the idealized crowd of do-gooders he creates, that are depicted going to battle with them!
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on December 26, 2011
I have to hand it to Oliver Stone; it takes real talent to create a film with absolutely zero sympathetic characters- in fact, each character is more pathetic and unlikeable than the one before....
1. Winnie Gekko- spends the entire film in a self-absorbed, self-pitying pout, simpering about how her father is responsible for All That Is Bad and complaining that her fiancee needs to "make a difference"- what does she do? Write for some blog.
In the very first scene, she tells LeBouf to turn off the tv because her father is on it. When he doesn't instantly comply, she breaks the remote- then announces "I'm taking a shower." Umm, why didn't you just go do that, and let him watch what he wanted? Later, she'll whine over dinner, whine over her massive engagement ring, whine that her father is responsible for the suicide of her brother,* whine whine...ugh, I kept wishing LeBouf would walk away. Why is she with him? (Oh, and she "doesn't care about money" knowing damn well she's got $100 mil waiting for her when she hits 25. Hey, I can totally relate, lady. Really.)
2.LeBouf's character- gets a $1.45 million bonus and instantly spends a third of it on a rock. Hey, remember that energy company in desperate need of money? Ever consider that might be a better investment, doofus? Then he insists on pushing Winnie and her dad together- why?
3. Gordon Gekko- introduced telling a cliche-ridden, ponderous lecture. Whatever. Later he tells LeBouf that Lou's suicide was "honorable." Lou had an adoring wife, a townhouse, more money than he could ever begin to spend, we can assume grown children and grandchildren, but kills himself because at 75 he can't manipulate money any more. I wonder how much of his fortune he left to the thousands of loyal former employees? Now that would have been honorable.
4. Eli Wallach's character- seems to exist because Stone needed a dessicated zombie in a suit to spit out four lines and make stupid whistling sounds while gesturing with one hand. What the hell was that?
5. Josh Brolin's character- as pointed out in a previous review, this guy looks like he should be sitting in a fake volcano petting a cat, planning to nuke the world's economy with a laser satellite. Too much. On the other hand, I can't see what makes him a villain- he started a rumor? Yeah? So? LeBouf's character does the same thing in revenge. Is he going to jail at the end too?
6. The insipid green energy scientist- seriously, buddy, shut up. I'm as green as they come, and I started to wish an oil slick would engulf your laboratory.
7. Cameos by Bud Fox and the relator from the original film- as if "Wall Street" wasn't already desperately referenced enough before that, with the terrible Talking Heads-lite soundtrack and an awkward "remember Blue Star?" conversation between Douglas and LeBouf. Talk about wrecking the message of the first film- see, Bud didn't learn the lesson that money isn't everything after all! He came out of jail, went right back into wheeling and dealing, and got rich! Jeesh, this would be like a sequel to "A Christmas Carol" in which Scrooge is a miserly, bitter, lonely old man again. What WAS the point of the first film again?
8. Susan Sarandon as house-flipper; Sarandon clearly decided to simply embrace every cliche'd image everyone has of realtors, down to the waving cigarette and fast talk. After all, she's got maybe two minutes of screen time- why put in any work at all?
9. The non-plot: Is it about green energy? Not at all. Is it about father-daughter relationships? Hardly. Is it about Wall Street, Greed? Not that I could follow. Is it about the power of rumors in the internet age? Well, that might make a little sense, but it's so exaggerated, what's the point? A sequel 20 years in the making which, in the end, was simply not worth the time.
*Winnie can't bear to be with her dad even for a few seconds over dinner, and when she doesn't get his absolutely undivided attention, she throws a fit and walks out. Maybe someone should tell her that the only reason Rudy committed suicide was because his name is mentioned in the original Wall Street movie and Stone felt he had to explain his absence from the sequel, plus he needed a reason for Winnie to hate her dad. Period.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2010
There are a lot of great moments in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010), director Oliver Stone's sequel to the landmark 80s film Wall Street (1987). I wish I could say that all those great moments add up to more, but they don't. Wall Street 2 is a good solid movie and well worth seeing for anyone who has seen the first one, but I feel like it lives a bit in the shadow of the original, like so many sequels. A few rare sequels that I think outshine their masterful predecessors are The Bourne Supremacy (2004), Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Superman II (1980), and Clear and Present Danger (1994). But those sequels are the exception to the rule to say the least. I give the original Wall Street 3.5 out of 5 stars and the sequel 3 out of 5 stars. Both movies have scenes that are a perfect 5, but the narrative that wants to tie these unbelievable scenes together in both movies doesn't quite work. Something doesn't quite gel. Regardless, both movies are well worth watching, and the timing for the sequel is perfect. I saw it in the theater on Friday, opening day. I'm curious to see the opening week box office numbers to see how others responded to it. The trailers were perfect and got me extremely psyched to see the film right when it came out. And there are some great scenes in the film not revealed in the trailer.
Shia LaBeouf is excellent as the young whipper-snapper protege replacement for Charlie Sheen, along with Carey Mulligan as his love interest and the daughter of Gordon Gekko. Josh Brolin plays the new 2000's Gordon Gekko replacement bad guy with perfect ease. And Gekko himself is reprised by the great Michael Douglas. There's no question in my mind that Douglas deserved his Oscar win for Best Actor as Gekko in the original Wall Street. It was and still is the role that defines him in my mind. The Academy got it right with that award for that particular role and not another. No one ever wonders who else could have been Gekko. Douglas owns this role. And we see flashes of that same brilliance 23 years later in Wall Street 2. The thing about film sometimes is that it has to age like wine. It might be bold and exciting when its young, but its true impact and depth can't always be appreciated until years later after it has sat awhile. The original Wall Street is now clearly an iconic and defining film from the height (and end) of the Reagon 80s...that "greed is good" time in our history that brought us to the collapse now in 2008-2010 when greed is no longer just good, it's legal, as Douglas quips in the new movie. I recently re-watched the original film and loved getting back into that time of cell phones the size of sub sandwiches.
What I'm left with from both of these movies is a realization that money and greed really aren't the game that's played on Wall Street. The game is "King of the Hill". Money is simply what's used to keep score in the game.