A gunman takes a TV show host hostage live on the air and demands to
know the real reason why the company he invested in lost $800 million.
Money Monster (2016)
Directed by Jodie Foster
Written by Jamie Linden, Alan DiFiore, Jim Kouf
Starring George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O'Connell,
Dominic West, Caitriona Balfe, Giancarlo Esposito,
Christopher Denham, Lenny Venito
A growing subgenre of late are films that deal with the fallout of Wall Street bailouts and massive economic failure. Money Monster is the most recent, and it would seem the most thrilling. When a crazed gunman takes Lee Gates, the obnoxious host of FNN's stock advice show "Money Monster", hostage on live television, the production team and the NYPD scramble to figure out how to stop him before he blows up the building with a homemade bomb. The premise grips you almost immediately, but it's tough to hold on to that premise over the course of an entire movie, which is where things start to get a little rocky.
The performances are fantastic, especially Jack O'Connell as disgruntled investor Kyle Budwell. It's easy to see how one could end up in his shoes, even if his plan was screwed from the get-go. Clooney doesn't phone it in, and I appreciate that, but I was disappointed by Dominic West, who usually turns in such memorable performances. The film itself is pretty good, but it doesn't know where to go. Are we supposed to sympathize with Budwell or hate him? Who knows? Money Monster tries to give us both, but that never works. Still, the film kept my interest the entire time, so it was certainly doing something right.
Money Monster succeeds in its realism. Instead of appealing to the hearts of his viewers, Lee Gates manages to talk his way further down the barrel of a loaded gun in a scene that literally snatches away any and all hope. Scenes like this are plentiful in Money Monster and in the end, a lesson is learned, but there's doubt that it will stay learned for very long. It's the cynicism that keeps the film alive, amazingly.