- RatedM18 /GenreDrama, Thriller
After making the transition from being in front to the back of the camera, Jodie Foster has dabbled in directing TV episodes for ‘Orange Is the New Black’ and ‘House of Cards’. With ‘Money Monster’, she's back to feature films, but it is a pity that this movie is lacklustre and heavy-handed.
George Clooney portrays Lee Gates, the over-the-top host of a finance show who is undoubtedly modeled on CNBC's Jim Cramer, who has made stock-picking entertainment and often criticised for talking up stocks.
The producer of Gates show is Patty, played by Julia Roberts. It's a regular Friday show that's interrupted by Kyle (Jack O'Connell), who's brandishing a pistol and makes Gates wear a vest that's strapped with a bomb. Kyle has lost a lot of money due to a stock pick by Gates that went south drastically, and Kyle is looking for justice.
Gates loses his mojo and tries to persuade Kyle to give himself up, but ends up sympathising with the intruder. Before long, Gates and Patty are trying to dig up the truth behind the reason why the stock that Kyle invested in fell.
The story has some good reversals that keep a rather flimsy plot going, but it's still not too hard to predict what's going to happen. There are plenty of plot holes that are just too hard to ignore, and contrivances that make all events a little too convenient.
Clooney tries to muster up an engaging performance, but his character is thoroughly unlikable and even Clooney can't make Gates interesting. Roberts' Patty is underwritten, and her behaviour after Kyle puts a gun to Gates' head raises questions of journalistic integrity. Like Gates, her character is rather two-dimensional and we know very little about her.
Besides Jim Cramer, the filmmakers clearly have Wall Street's rampant greed in their sights, but the movie is so heavy-handed and deliberate that it comes across like a lecture that you've sat through before. Compared to the ‘Wolf of Wall Street’, which also used an over-the-top look at the age of greed, ‘Money Monster’ comes across as clumsy and unsophisticated. Surrounding it all with a hostage drama merely dumbs down the film, and some of the events stretch plausibility.
Foster does direct a fluid drama and the pace never lets up, but the movie and its threadbare characters fails to really grab the viewer. It's mildly entertaining, yet not very incisive nor informative. ‘Money Monster’ fails to really target the beast that it's aiming at.
‘Money Monster’ opens 12 May 2016