STARRING: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O’Connell, Dominic West, Caitriona Balfe, Christopher Denham, Giancarlo Esposito, Condola Rashad, Lenny Venito, Greta Lee, Emily Meade, Grant Rosenmeyer, Chris Bauer and Makhaola Ndebele
Financial TV host Lee Gates and his producer Patty are put in an extreme situation when an irate investor takes over their studio.
Money Monster is a financial TV show hosted by financial guru Lee Gates. Less than 24 hours after IBIS Clear Capital’s stock inexplicably cratered due to a glitch in a trading algorithm costing investors $800m, Lee plans to have IBIS CEO Walt Camby appear but doesn’t due to unexpectedly leaving for a business trip. Whilst on the air during the latest edition of the show, a deliveryman appears on set, pulls a gun and takes over the studio and Gates hostage, forcing him to put on a vest filled with explosives. During a tense standoff broadcast to million on live television, Lee and producer Patty must work against the clock to unravel the mystery behind the glitch before the deliveryman decides to let the bomb go off.
Money Monster is a hybrid of a film from what came before. It’s equal parts Network, Dog Day Afternoon and to a certain degree of making the Wall Street jargon digestible for film viewing audiences like The Big Short, it thankfully remains fresh in its storytelling and overall structure and that’s due to Jodie Foster in the directors chair.
The film is well paced once the hostage situation begins and thanks to casting the talents of George Clooney, Julia Roberts and Jack O’Connell in the key roles, you genuinely care for the characters involved. Clooney’s Gates is a man thrown into this insane scenario and eventually begins to anchor the situation as in he has a guest on the show in trying to uncover the answers that will save him and the crew in the room with him and I thought Clooney was really good in this role. Julia Roberts is equally as good as studio director Patty Fenn, who feels the most comfortable in this chaotic situation due to working in a chaotic environment of studio production and treats it as such, even at one point getting one of the cameraman to move on Kyle due to too much shadow covering him from a certain shot. Jack O’Connell, while shouty, is still so intensely convincing as Kyle Budwell, a man his entire life savings gone after investing in IBIS Clear Capital’s stock and looking to get some answers as to how $800m could suddenly disappear. The film is at its strongest when it focuses on what is going on in the studio and there’s a few scenarios in which the film is reaching the ceiling of the so-called ‘preach’ level and manages to do the opposite of what you expect, from the scenes of the police putting Kyle’s girlfriend to talk to him via video feed and also Gates making a call to invest on IBIS Clear Capital stock in order to not only to save his life, but show the gumption of the human spirit, I thought these scenes in particular were handled really well. There’s some comedic elements to this film that may feel out of place yet feel at home, especially the way the general public acts towards the resolution of the film in the final act, as well as making memes/vines of a particular outcome during the whole crisis because that’s what some people do.
Some viewers may find the overall arc of ‘Wall Street hate the little guy’ stick a bit too much (judging by some reviews, some critics have) and there’s a few comedy elements that are thrown into the mix that just didn’t quite work for me personally. The film does feel like it stutters around in the final act as we get to resolve the mystery of the missing money but I’m glad that Foster went through with the resolution of a particular character in that final act. While I did enjoy Caitriona Balfe’s performance as Diane Lester, her arc in uncovering the truth didn’t interest me in the same way that the hostage situation did, but at least she was given more to do than say the likes of Giancarlo Esposito and Chris Bauer.
A suspenseful thriller that takes people’s cynicism on corporate America to a theatrical level and yet manage to make it compelling viewing and make us invested in the characters caught up in this chaotic scenario. Really good performances have its three leads, Clooney, Roberts and O’Connell and though it stutters in the final act due to the story resolution and some rather unnecessary comedic moments here and there, it’s still though checking out Money Monster whilst it’s playing in cinemas near you. 8/10