Bets Are Hedged with a Kinder, Gentler Gekko in Wall Street Sequel
- Friday, September 24, 2010
Release Date: September 24, 2010
Rating: PG-13 (for brief strong language and thematic elements)
Genre: Drama, Sequel
Run Time: 133 min.
Director: Oliver Stone
Actors: Michael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf, Josh Brolin, Carey Mulligan, Eli Wallach, Frank Langella, Susan Sarandonate
Given our nation's own shaky economic status, an indictment on greed and corruption in the modern business world is downright timely. And when the lesson just happens to include the particularly delicious antics of a top-notch villain like Gordon Gekko, still played with snake-like precision by Michael Douglas who scored an Oscar for the honor in 1987's Wall Street, who couldn't be intrigued by the proposition?
After learning that greed wasn't quite so good after all, the film begins with Gekko's release from prison. After serving an eight-year sentence for insider trading, he's left with nothing more than a check for $1,800, a gaudy, gold Rolex, the only relic from his wealthier days, a money clip with no money and an oversized cell phone that I'm guessing won't allow Gekko to post the requisite "I'm finally out of jail" Facebook status update.
Even more devastating, Gekko is all alone when he finally vacates the premises. While other former inmates have the reassuring hugs of loved ones, not to mention a ride home, Gekko is forced to find his own way back to the city. Coincidentally, that's also a pretty accurate description of the even bigger challenge that lies ahead—being relevant, rich and powerful in a world that's clearly changed. After all, greed just isn't good, but it's apparently legal, something Gekko notes once he hits the book tour circuit.
When you're not exactly welcomed back with open arms into the business world, your next big money-making venture naturally involves writing a book, right? Well, at least the screenwriters have the wherewithal to note it's not exactly the most booming of industries these days either. That minor detail aside, Gekko apparently still has a loyal, standing-room-only following as he preaches the gospel of today's economics, namely that the younger generation shouldn't expect much. "You're the Ninja generation," he says without a trace of sympathy. "No income, no jobs, no assets. You have a lot to look forward to."
Getting a kick out of Gekko's rather opinionated take on all things market-related is Jacob Moore (Shia LaBeouf, who does an admirable job, despite the fact he barely looks a day over 18), an ambitious Wall Street newbie with a passion for futuristic green technology and a link to Gekko himself. Engaged to Gekko's estranged daughter Winnie (An Education's Carey Mulligan), a proudly left-leaning blogger for a non-profit (perish the thought!), Jake wastes no time introducing himself.
Sensing an opportunity to reconnect with his daughter, Gekko also doesn't waste time capitalizing on his new connection. Much like Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) from the original Wall Street, it doesn't take long for the earnest young pup to get swept up in Gekko's atmosphere, and only minutes later, Jake has even agreed to persuade his fiancée to have dinner with the man she blames for ruining not only her life, but for failing her brother who eventually died of a drug overdose.
However, as Gekko-centric as the beginning of Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is, director Oliver Stone isn't content to keep things simple. Instead, he inserts several competing storylines of varying quality in the mix that end up muddying the final result. In fact, just when you've settled in and started wondering what's going to happen now that Jake and Gekko have connected (and what Winnie will think of the development), another storyline is abruptly introduced.
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