Money Monster - The Riles Review
George Clooney is a bit of a charisma monster and just seems to ooze cool no matter what. Even though he tends to be typecast a little bit as ‘that guy’, he seems to make it his own every time. As outwardly similar as each character might seem on the surface, Clooney can somehow make them all feel like different people and not just alternate projections of suave old George. Money Monster is the latest Clooney vehicle, and it brings a lot of incredible talent to the table, with Julia Roberts costarring and Jodie Foster directing. It’s a riveting movie, grounded quite solidly in reality.
George Clooney stars as Lee Gates, a stocks guru with his TV show ‘Money Monster’. All is traveling smoothly until some dude comes in with a gun demanding justice for all the money Lee lost him on a bad stock tip, all while the cameras roll on the latest episode of Gates’ show.
Money Monster is kind of in the same category as The Big Short, however it’s on the opposite end of the spectrum, in the sense that The Big Short would make or break itself for audiences because it relied on the audience having at least some financial knowledge. Money Monster is mostly targeting the audience with an absolute zero percentage of knowledge on the stock market. The film doesn’t dive into the particulars at all, even during Gates’ show, you don’t learn anything about the stock market. The only thing you learn is that the wanker bankers with all the imaginative money the whole world has trusted them with are most definitely up to no good. So enter at your own peril. Money Monster is an incredibly intelligent film, it just doesn’t seem to waste any of that brainpower on the stock market.
As well as telling you to burn your nearest bank, the film tries to convey a few messages all at once. The subtext is really powerful, and there are true moments of thematic genius. All of these moments are hard to talk about without ruining some of the finer scenes, because they’re all crucial moments in the story. But it’s good to see a film where the themes are directly correlating with the events in the film. It all intertwines together perfectly, and avoids the trap of having a whole movie about whatever and then quickly tying it back to a something completely random by having characters say “banks are baaaaad” and doing their best not to look or wink into the camera. The only let down to the story is that the film feels like it ends about three or four times. What looked like the perfect frame to finish on fades to black, and then it comes to in another location, only for that to conclude and repeat. It looks a little less confident, because one of those perfect, thematically tied pieces has to be followed because they don’t seem to trust the audience to get it. They would all be great endings if the rest of them weren’t there as well.
The cast is pretty stellar as you’d expect. George Clooney does what he does best, although towards the end he becomes incredibly empathetic almost out of nowhere. It kind of makes sense that he would land there following the trajectory of the story, but it seems rushed considering how much of a douche-fruit he was at the start. Julia Roberts is a gem as the director of the TV show, balancing everyone’s safety with getting the crazy gunman’s message across on the show. Jack O’Connell is brilliant, and this is a standout role for him as well. He’s always done quality stuff like Starred Up and lately in Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, but after this he should be getting roles throwing themselves at him.
Wrapping it up...
For a movie that doesn’t dance around the intricacies of the stock market, you’re probably better off watching The Big Short. But if you’re okay with that side of things being a little watered down, then you should definitely go out and catch Money Monster, because it is a tremendous film. The ending may not be as confident in itself as it should be, but it is well worth the ride.
Money Monster - 8/10