'Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps'
(Michael Douglas, Shia Labeouf, Josh Brolin, Eli Wallach, et al / DVD / PG-13 / 2010 / 20th Century Fox)
Overview: Emerging from a lengthy prison stint, Gordon Gekko finds himself on the outside of a world he once dominated. Looking to repair his damaged relationship with his daughter, Gekko forms an alliance with her fiance Jacob, and Jacob begins to see him as a father figure. But Jacob learns the hard way that Gekko - still a master manipulator and player - is after something very different from redemption.
DVD Verdict: The first wall street film was a topical and reasonably ok message picture. The story was competent. The acting was good. And the plot was somewhat original. This film, the second film, is pure explotation garbage with a very peculiar message of its own.
The first flaw is that the script lectures rather than tells a story. Every point has to be hammered obsessively just in case we missed it. And in case anyone misses it, you can be sure it will be repeated shortly.
The second flaw is that Oliver Stone's mind is gone. He lives in a world of shadows and conspiracies that cannot be named. The ties to realism in the first film are replaced with hints of the evil men who lurk in the shadows.
The film might have been interesting if it had followed up with the Charlie Sheen character. But instead we get Shia Labeouf. If Stone wanted to dig into conspiracies, he might want to take a look into the improbable rise and never-ending push of an utterly terrible actor. Labeouf is a b-actor great for talking to giant robots that turn into cars or being a sidekick but a dramatic lead he is not. He is in over his head in the film.
Labeouf is Gekko's new underling set up to be corrupted. The story is changed up in that Gekko has a grown daughter this time. And like most of Oliver Stone's women, she is the incorruptable voice of virtue. I found nothing positive in her character. She was another spoiled trust-fund baby talking a good game about virtue while she lives off the proceeds. The daughter is engaged to Labeouf which means lots of whiny boring scenes with her telling him that he should be moral.
The overall message of this film is in some sense the opposite of Wall Street (the original). Greed is not just good, its moral and right. And not only is greed good, greed is the path to restoring your fortune and regaining the love of your estranged daughter. And you can always become a better person by investing the proceeds of greed in "GREEN TECHNOLOGY". In many ways, Stone turns Gekko into another victim. Its not Gekko's fault. It's the fault of the men in the shadows who killed JFK and run the government.
And so we have a contradiction at the heart of the film. Greed is bad but it works. Gordon Gekko's greed makes him a billionaire grandfather of a happy family. Labeouf's greed makes him rich and solves all his problems. Gekko's daughter's greed gives her a happy carefree life.
The ultimate message here would seem to be: "Its good to be rich" and that greed is a disease only of the poor. The poor need to know their place and leave the good life to the Gekko's of the world. [MB] This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.40:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Commentary by Director Oliver Stone
A Conversation with Oliver Stone and the Cast of Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps