Sunday, March 29, 2020

Wall Street Redux

 

 

Oliver Stone has brought back Gordon Gecko (Michael Douglas) in “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.” It’s at once a sequel, a parody, and an effort to bring about at least a partial apology for the “Greed is Good Gecko.”

This movie has ups, downs, excellent acting, a few cameos, including a very amusing one by Charlie Sheen, and splendid photography. Is it realistic? No. Is it good entertainment? Yes.

There’s a sort of ambivalence about Gecko as he is released from prison and sets about on his rehabilitation and restoration of his relationship with his daughter Winnie (Carey Mulligan). Gecko writes a smash hit book and begins to build back his fortune and, perhaps, credibility. But, wait! His daughter has no use for him; and there’s a new contender for Gecko’s affections – Jake Moore (Shia LaBoeuf), a rare Wall Street idealist. Jake is tutored by Louis Zabel, kind, pristine, and generous, as played so well by the impeccable Frank Langella. Jake ingratiates himself with Gecko primarily it seems, to boost his relationship with Winnie. There’s a not-so-mysterious Swiss bank account, an over-the-top treacherous rival to Jake, and a veritable court jester played by Eli Wallach who must be in his ‘90s.

The plot gets twisted and turned with allusions to the Wall Street crash, credit swap defaults, the introduction of a well-oiled, ruthless no-goodnik (Josh Brolin) and Josh’s annoying mother (Susan Sarandon), who has left nursing for the golden land of real estate in a failing market. Brolin is particularly good as a man without a conscience, and is nasty enough to get the audience ready to hiss as in an old-fashioned movie serial. There are ample twists and turns to keep viewers awake and interested, although this is by no means Oliver Stone’s finest work.

It’s not easy to match a sequel to a good original. That’s true in this case as in others. However, it’s good entertainment, and Michael Douglas does a fine job of resuscitating Gecko.

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