Over the weekend I finally got around to watchingÂ Wall Street – Money Never Sleeps, the sequel to Wall Street. The latter is widely considered a classic. I’m confident the sequel won’tÂ be viewed in the same light 20 years from now, unfortunately. I’m not saying it’s a bad film in general terms. It just doesn’t live up to the original and lacks some creativity.
The thing I came away from Money Never Sleeps thinking was that it lacked the edge of the original. Shia Labeouf does not have anywhere near the same kind of screen presence as Charlie Sheen did (Bud FoxÂ makes a brief appearance in the sequel, by the way), leaving the direct inter-personal conflicts which feature in the story – verbal as they may be – less impactful. And the lack of one strong antagonist character (Michael Douglas’s Gordon Gekko sometimes is one, sometimes isn’t) tends to diffuse the tension.
In terms of the story, if you’ve read much about the history of the financial crisis – especiallyÂ On the Brink, by Hank Paulson – you will see a very strong similarity in the early parts of Money Never Sleeps. There’s also a firm that is portrayed very much in the way Goldman Sachs wasÂ portrayed in recent years. To top it all off, GekkoÂ has veryÂ John Paulson-like success in the markets.
I do think the new film does a pretty good job reflecting how information moves around these days. Blogs, instant messaging, and the like feature along side the traditional phone and in-person interaction. Overall, though, I’d give it a middling rating. Gekko’s semi-reformed character is the only one that’s really interesting and the story is flat and somewhat disjointed.
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