Money Monster

Review by David Jenkins @daveyjenkins

Directed by

Jodie Foster

Starring

George Clooney Jack O’Connell Julia Roberts

Anticipation.

Jodie Foster has had a solid if unremarkable career as a director. But you never know…

Enjoyment.

Insultingly scrappy and entirely disconnected from reality.

In Retrospect.

A familiar tale, told really, really poorly.

Jodie Foster swings for the Wall Street fat cats and misses by miles in this thin thriller which premiered in Cannes.

Facile doesn’t even scrape the surface when describing the latest directorial effort by Jodie Foster. The title refers to a stock tip tabloid show hosted by Lee Gates (George Clooney), the kind of hard-ball economist powerhouse who mixes watered-down trading speculation with booty-grinding hip-hop dancing and wearing a dollar-green top hat.

Turns out that one of his triple lock insider steers was actually a bit of a lemon, and one crazy kid (Jack O’Connell) who literally bet the house on Ibis Capital going nuclear was left short changed to the tune of 60 large. And so, he waltzes on to the set of Money Monster during a live transmission, dresses Lee up in a bomb jacket, screams “this is fucking bullshit!” over and over, and threatens to turn the presenter into an oleaginous mulch if he doesn’t get some answers, and stat. For reasons that remain an unhappy mystery, they need to broadcast this ad-hoc siege live to the whole planet.

Nothing whatsoever in this film rings true. Clooney looks like he’s in a noxious haze, drifting back to the days of B-thriller filler like The Peacemaker and seemingly happy to play it parody-level rote as a way of landing some punches on those Wall Street fat cats. If you watch this film and aren’t able to predict exactly – exactly! – how it’s going to play out within the first five minutes, then you might want to throw in the towel with movies and seek out some other form of entertainment. The plot is like a driverless juggernaut rolling slowly, inexorably towards you – there is no possibility that it might randomly swerve out the way, your fate is sealed.

And despite its best intentions, it actually succeeds in making you see the logic of so-called greedy investment bankers who whisk up crackpot schemes in order to make their shares look enticing to potential buyers. Julia Roberts plays director Patty Fenn, the calming presence in the booth who whispers orders and info to the hot-shot presenter. Her inclusion in the film is as a human plot motor, essentially ordering minions to make phone calls, mash laptop keys and hit Google hard and fast to keep things ticking. If you thought The Big Short diluted complex market economics for the masses, then this pulverises it, blends it, stirs in a heaped spoonful of sugar and forces it in your mouth while making cooing airplane noises.

It’s a film with absolutely nothing going on. There are times where you’re even forced into thinking this must be some kind of symbolist metaphor as so little makes sense. It asks that we hold investment firms to account and that we take measures to, if not prevent, then at least assuage their inborn avarice. As George and Jack’s high-stakes shouting match plays out on live TV, the world tunes in, waiting to see how it’ll all turn out.

Tellingly, when the cameras finally stop rolling and next show starts, the once-rapt audience go back to their lives as if nothing has happened. Perhaps this is Foster suggesting that, in this climate of hyperbolic media frenzy, we’ve become immune to life’s authentic dramas. Or, it might just be that everyone saw if for what it was: a light diversion that didn’t abide by any forms of western logic and offered no food for further thought.

Published 22 May 2016

Tags: George Clooney Jodie Foster Julia Roberts

Anticipation.

Jodie Foster has had a solid if unremarkable career as a director. But you never know…

Enjoyment.

Insultingly scrappy and entirely disconnected from reality.

In Retrospect.

A familiar tale, told really, really poorly.

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