As timely as it is old school, Money Monster deals with broad, economic issues whilst proving to be economical in its own way, telling a story in a succinct 90 minutes making for a snappy, tense, if a little over-reaching, Movie experience.
Lee Gates (George Clooney) is an arrogant, smarmy Wall Street guru, hosting the popular show Money Monster where he deals out stock market tips to the public in a glitzy, tacky showmanship way. Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts) is his director, in his ear and in the booth controlling the show. One day, after shares plummet and a dodgy tip from Lee, Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connel) storms into the studio with a gun and a bomb to demand answers as to why he lost $60,000.
With the CO of Ibis, the Films fictional company, in the air, it’s up to Gates and his director to calm the situation and find the man some answers.
Where this Film succeeds, apart from its great performances, is in the assured direction from Jodie Foster. Having been a part of some of Hollywoods finest thrillers, she’s picked up a fair amount of knowledge in how to make a Film tick.
Money Monster has a delightfully short run time, not because it’s not any good, but because it goes against current trends and is all the more thrilling for it. With confidence, Jodie tells the story smartly and efficiently, effectively keeping the pace up and building towards its finale.
Foster, Clooney and Roberts, three professionals who have been working
for years and who do this with their eyes clothes, make it seem easy. They all perform excellently, whether placement of a camera or in performance, they know what notes to hit and they hit pretty much all of them.
Where the Film falls down, during its final third, is when things start to become a little too over the top. Not to spoil anything (It’s in the trailer) but when they leave the tight, claustrophobic confines of the studio, the Film seems to go a little off the rails.
There is a bit of convenient plotting and a couple of moments of disbelief that go against the direction of where you think the story was heading but by the end it pretty much manages to get back on track.
This is entirely helped by 3 great central performances. Roberts is essentially the lead as we see the action through her eyes, whilst Clooney gets the lions share of the attention. They both do a good job of easy charm and sudden terror as things begin to kick off. O’Connel gets the meatier role though as a sympathetic guy who has a family to support yet lost everything when he invested his money in a dodgy place.
He does the excellent sort of eye acting that makes you completely believe in him as a character and like the dangerous man of Starred Up, O’Connel nails the believably angry, yet pained anti-hero.
The real villain is the CO of IBIS, played by Dominic West, who holds a secret to the falling stocks and is pointing the finger at everyone else but himself. In a time of twisted parliaments, dangerous politicians and digital privacy, Money Monster is honest about its motives, even when they’re broad.
The message isn’t subtle and it makes a point to get that across, but the performance from O’Connel is so well done that it feels far more real and painful due to his nervous performance. The Film serves far better as a straight up thriller but, when there are moments that look at our modern world, rolling news and even internet culture, it gives us enough meat to think about as the credits roll.
All the bits in between, the supporting cast, the nuances of character (“That’s not water”) and the editing all give the Film a richer, more believable world and despite some slightly overdone dramatic moments and a fairly safe script, Money Monsters is an effective and enjoyable thriller.
P.S. It’s also pretty great to have a female director get to do a big budget thriller like this