Money's a Monster It Works Like a Harley; You Have to Kick It to Start It
Wall Street is Gonna Get You if You Don't Watch Out!
Over the past year or so, we have all seen our fair share of films detailing how the economy crashed in ’08 and the resulting economic, personal, and cultural fallout that occurred (Margin Call, 99 Homes, The Wolf of Wall Street, and The Big Short), and now we can add Money Monster to that list. While Money Monster doesn’t specifically deal with the ’08 crash, it can still be seen in the light of that event and those four previously-mentioned films. This film follows Lee Gates, (Clooney) who is a bombastic TV personality whose popular financial network show has made him the money wizard of Wall Street. However, after Gates personally vouches a high-tech stock that he claims to be a bulletproof stock that was a sure-fire investment mysteriously crashes, an irate investor named Kyle Budwell (O'Connell) takes Gates, his crew, and his ace producer Patty Fenn (Roberts) hostage live on air.
MONEY MONSTER - Official Trailer
The Rise of the Proletariat
Unfolding in real time, the film follows Gates and Fenn as they are forced to deal with a very agitated Budwell who has not only taken Gates and the entire set hostage, but has strapped a suicide vest to Gates, and is keeping his hand on a Dead Man’s Switch while he berates Gates in an attempt to find out what happened to his money. Now Gates and Fenn must find a way to keep themselves and the rest of the crew alive while simultaneously attempting to uncover the truth behind a tangle of big money lies involving a high-profile entrepreneur and the company he manages.
A view from the top
The Coming Clash
For his part, Budwell isn’t so much a villain as he is a working-class victim of the über-wealthy money managers who stand above us all siphoning wealth off from those of us who do the actual labor, while being completely removed from the consequences of their actions. Budwell, who — outside of his actions at the TV studio — wasn’t really a bad guy, but simply attempting to find his own place in the world and do right by his pregnant girlfriend and unborn child. Now, all he wants is to find out where his money went. On the other side of this coin, is Gates, who, while appearing to be a contributing member of society, is really (by his own admission) something of a self-absorbed, narcissistic, A-Hole. Still, once he comes to realize that this is not a hoax, and that Budwell is as serious as a heart attack, he begins to come around and genuinely attempt to help the guy.
Suddenly it's serious
Crash of the Market
While director Jodi Foster didn’t outright acknowledge it, it is pretty clear that the character of Gates draws heavily on television personality Jim Cramer of CNBC’s Mad Money, who very famously pushed Bear Stearns stock was just prior to the ’08 crash (and was subsequently Gibb’s smacked by John Stewart, and then went on The Daily Show to have it happen yet again. Still, for what it’s worth, Cramer took his lumps like a man.). Well, at least Cramer didn’t have a Kyle Budwell sneak onto his set and strap him up with an explosive vest, eh?
Seeking the Truth
The Road Back
So, if you are in the mood for a tense, well-played drama about how the high-stakes shell game played by Wall Street really affects you and me, you could do worse than by going out to see this film. You could have invested in Bear Stearns.
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© 2016 Robert J Sodaro