In the heady days of the early 1990’s in the heart of the financial world – Wall Street, Gordon Gekko (played by Michael Douglas) is a mover and a shaker – one of the most successful and ruthless of financial market traders ever to operate out of “The Street”. But this comes to a stunning end when he is found guilty of insider trading and money laundering, then spends the next eight years in prison to consider his mistakes and contemplate his future. In 2001, Gordon is released a “changed man” but by 2008, his daughter Winnie (by Carey Mulligan) is estranged from him. She is a political activist journalist in NYC and is engaged to ambitious junior trader Jake Moore (by Shia Labeouf). Jake hopes Winnie and her father will reconcile, so he contacts Gordon while he is promoting the book he wrote (“Is Greed Good?”) after his release from prison. The global economy is on the brink of crisis and Gordon foretells this while he is speaking on the book circuit. But Gordon’s standing is tarnished, both in the eyes of the financial community and with his own daughter, so his life has a lonely edge these days. To make life a challenge, Jake’s firm collapses during the financial crisis – with the help of rival banker Bretton James (by Josh Brolin) – who also happens to be an old adversary of Gekko’s. So ensues a “tit for tat” story where each man sets out for revenge for the wrongs done to them by the others and become top dog of The Street … no, The World.
This movie is the sequel to the 1987 stunner movie “Wall Street” where we first heard Gordon Gekko utter those famous words – “Greed … is good”. I understand that reviewers generally feel this sequel is not nearly as good as the original “Wall Street”. Perhaps that’s true, but it is still a good movie. There are several references to the original story throughout the movie, which is fine – and appropriate – and often quite fun. Best of all is the cameo by a key character in the original “Wall Street”, Bud Fox (by Charlie Sheen). There are great performances here – Michael Douglas totally owns the role of Gordon Gekko and I am pleased to say he reprises him in all his cold, heartless and ruthless glory for some sections of the movie, which is marvellous – he shines from the screen in these scenes. His earlier, “Gordon’s found a heart and a conscience” persona is not quite as compelling, but it’s interesting and almost endearing all the same. For me, the other characters are mostly peripheral, but Winnie is performed beautifully by Carey Mulligan. The two other key actors, Josh Brolin and Shia Labeouf play their characters Bretton James and Jake Moore as they need to – and Brolin’s is definitely the stronger of the two performances. Their interractions are fine and their story is easily watchable, but that’s all. Susan Sarandon appears as Jake’s mother, which is a nice touch. All in all, this movie is pretty good and it belongs to Michael Douglas – just as it should.
Made in 2010. Directed by Oliver Stone