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Rashid Irani's Review: Wall Street

hollywood Updated: Sep 25, 2010 12:46 IST
Rashid Irani
Rashid Irani
Hindustan Times
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Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
Cast: Michael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf
Direction: Oliver Stone
Rating: ***

Twenty-three years after his expose of the unscrupulous world of the New York stock market, Oliver Stone reunites with his Oscar-winning star, Michael Douglas for this topical if somewhat heavy-handed sequel.

With the subtlety of a sledgehammer, the director depicts the moral bankruptcy that led to the recent financial meltdown. Stone strives to dramatise the behind-the-scenes machinations, but is not nearly as effective as he was in Wall Street (1987).

Utilising a variety of archaic devices such as split-screens, graphs and even an iris-out, the film follows former financial titan, Gordon Gekko (Douglas) as he attempts to make a comeback after a lengthy term in prison.

“Greed is good” was his mantra (and the cause of his downfall) at the time. Chastened as it were by the new economic recession, he’s now published a book titled — you guessed it —“Is greed good?”

Hoping to reconcile with his estranged daughter (newcomer Carey Milligan, endearing), Gekko forms an alliance with the hotshot trader (LaBeouf, replacing the original’s Charlie Sheen, who fetches up in a cameo this time around) to whom she’s engaged.

The family plot has all the elements of a maudlin melodrama and Stone, as is his wont, seizes every opportunity for naïve moralising. In one jarring instance, the camera lingers over several pairs of earrings as if to indicate the extent of ill-gotten wealth.

Moreover, the investor-trader jargon is often incomprehensible. Also, there are plenty of product placements, ranging from a popular brand of potato crisps to a premium Scotch label.

Still, such reservations do not come in the way of the film’s overall merit. Edited with razor-sharp skill and narrated at a breathless pace, the script is embellished with a string of pithy one-liners.

Adding considerably to the film’s appeal, are the impressive performances. Reprising his career-defining role, Michael Douglas gives it the conviction and complexity it deserves. The speech to plug his new book is delivered with amazing bravura. Susan Sarandon, Frank Langella and nonagenarian Eli Wallach offer outstanding support.

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is recommended viewing, mainly for its punch-packed moments.