Out Now On-Demand
Not every conspiracy is a theory.
Thriller following a popular TV financial reporter (George Clooney) - "The Wizard of Wall Street" - who is taken hostage, live on air, by an irate investor. Co-stars Jack O'Connell and Julia Roberts. Directed by Jodie Foster.
- Jodie Foster('The Beaver')
Rating: M Violence, offensive language and sex scenes
It can be a glorious thing when movies attempt to boil down public rancor over a certain issue into a fictional story about one man's struggle – the power of cinema to distill widely held feelings into a propulsive, personal story is unmatched. That was clearly the goal here, to spin the widespread enmity for the 1% into a gripping real-time thriller in which specific characters are held accountable for the financial inequalities that divide our society.
Alas, the film feels about a decade too late, and doesn't credit the audience with the intelligence to understand the complexities of the situation it is addressing. At least The Big Short attempted (thanks, Margot Robbie!) to lay out the decidedly unsexy nuances of the global financial system. Money Monster, on the other hand, reduces the whole thing to a case of black-and-white heroes and villains.
Clooney and Roberts are both incredibly watchable A-list stars, but both of their performances fail to acknowledge that the general audience knows a little bit more about how live television works than it did when, say, Network came out, which contributes to the sense of condescension that permeates Money Monster.
It's one thing to be inspired by notable precedents, but it's not a good sign when all you can think about is better films – films like Dog Day Afternoon, Quick Change. Heck, even Airheads.
I was never bored watching Money Monster, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was being talked down to.
Rolling Stone (USA)
Time Out London
Los Angeles Times
New York Times
A tautly directed hostage thriller with an outstanding cast
Is it fair to criticise a movie for not being what it could have been? Some critics have pointed out that Money Monster (2016) does not go far enough in attacking the root causes of recent global financial meltdowns. But this is only one movie with one voice, and it was made for entertainment. If you want to see the shape of a movie-led subversive campaign you need to join the dots between recent films like 99 Homes (2014), The Big Short (2015), and believe it or not, Captain America: Civil War (2016). They all address issues of political and corporate accountability which have become the major cinematic themes of our time. All of them ask the same question: who guards the guardians in the bastions of capitalism and in the home of the free?
The film Money Monster is framed around a TV studio hostage scenario where a deranged bomb-laden amateur investor demands on-air answers about an $800 million IBIS stock-market crash. Lee Gates (George Clooney) has been targeted as the prancing celebrity Wall Street guru whose popularity rests on picking stock market winners. Crazed Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell) sneaks into the studio and demands to know why the system is rigged so that shmucks like him can lose everything they own. The drama unfolds live under the cool control of executive producer Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts) but panic escalates when Kyle’s pregnant girlfriend publicly abuses him as a loser. The siege moves to a street walk lined with police and hero-worshippers who also want answers, leading to Gates and Budwell confronting the IBIS CEO Walt Camby (Dominic West) in an online feed watched by millions.
Money Monster is a tautly directed hostage thriller with an outstanding cast, a gripping real-time storyline, and enough probing insight into the greed industry to have some social value. Clooney’s performance anchors the film as he traverses emotions from arrogance to terror, to being a vigilante for the truth. If Clooney is the anchor then Roberts is the ship itself, playing steely calm balanced with enough glimpses of emotion to also make her the warm heart of the story. O’Connell plays escalating desperation so well that his performance sets the tension graph for the whole film. The camerawork feels like an on-air take and the story unfolds with edge-of-your-seat pacing and enough surprises to keep you guessing how this will turn out. The street walk could have been tightened by ten minutes, but otherwise it is outstanding entertainment that also asks important social questions.
Worth the Money
An engaging thriller with great performances from Clooney and Roberts but is ultimately let down by the third act.