The sequel to the excellent 1987 film Wall Street, Money Never Sleeps is set 23 years on with the US economy and stock market on the brink of collapse. Jacob (LaBeouf), an ambitious, young trader, is unfortunately at one of the investment banks on the verge of collapse, but with his mentor and hero at the head (langella), doesn’t want to believe it. Forced to ask for a government bailout Lewis Zabel has no option than to accept the uncompromising terms put to him by hedge fund manager Betton James (Brolin), but the collapse of his company soon leads Zabel to commit suicide, shocking the entire financial world. None, however, are more devastated Jacob, who after time, comes to suspect Bretton might have had something to do with his death.
Enter the legendary Gordon Gekko; Jacob has been dating his daughter (Mulligan) for some time now but after spending a long time in jail for insider trading, Gekko has grown estranged from investigative wrtier Winnie. Marvelling at Gekko’s life, Jacob and the elder statesman drub up something of a working relationship, and with his insight, Jacob’s suspicions of Bretton’s dirty practices grow stronger and clearer. In exchange for helping to reconcile the relationship between father and daughter, Jacob enlists Gekko’s help to expose the dirty dealings of Bretton James that helped tip Zabel over the edge, but in mixing his private and work life, it’s not long before everything turns a little messy.
Waiting over two decades for a sequel makes Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps a strange project for director Oliver Stone, but given the recent economic meltdown that the film mirrors, certainly had a lot of potential to be successful. Sadly what it lacks though is a strong storyline embedded within the financial turmoil.
The film is very solidly acted; LaBeouf gives his character energy and passion, Mulligan is great as Jacob’s girlfriend and daughter of Gekko, while Douglas is as sophisticated and smug as ever as the returning Gordon, but despite attentive directing, there just isn’t really much in the plot to get you excited.
The film doesn’t have the punch or bite of the first, throwing a few jabs at the banking world, but never quite connecting the fatal blow. It spends a long time not really going anywhere before in the final act a plotline finally appears and then in a flash everything is wrapped up and the credits quickly roll. For a whole lot of time fumbling around banking’s background complexities and the relationships between Jacob, Winnie and Gordon, it doesn’t have anything like a big enough pay off.
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps isn’t an awful film, far from it; the production values are high and there’s always the threat of major drama to keep you interested; it’s just given the talent involved and timely nature of the themes, the film should be a lot better than it is. There’s nothing hugely wrong with it, there just isn’t a great deal to get your teeth into. It should be an electrifying tale of love and loss set against the turbulent economic c rash of 2008, but instead there’s a whole lot of smoke without any real fire, and while it’s entertaining enough, you’ll almost undoubtedly still leave the cinema disappointed.