An explosive financial thriller, a hostage crisis, a globe-spinning mystery and a potent satire of Wall Street’s television coverage like a professional sport. This is Money Monster. But despite its present-day setting, it feels a little retro – as if it just missed the window for maximum relevance following The Big Short. Except Money Monster marks Jodie Foster’s emergence as the director of a greater and more technically challenging project than anything she’s done before. I came in with low expectations and walked out having experienced a pleasantly dynamic drama and the never failing charisma of George Clooney too.
Money Monster follows a popular stock advice show hosted by George Clooney, as Lee Gates, who relies on flashy sound effects and show business glam to make the daily market as fun as a game show. The story takes a nail-biting turn when young Jack O-Connell, as Kyle, sneaks onto the live television set carrying a gun and a bomb strapped to his chest. After losing his life savings tied in promising stocks, Kyle is left to ask all of the big questions. Strap yourself in for slow and steady tension rising between Lee and his manager Patty, who tirelessly work to keep Kyle calm and compliant.
Foster envisioned fascinating contrasts between the intimate scope of the standoff and the global reach of Money Monster as a television event drawing viewers into the unspoken corruption of Wall Street. In some ways, Money Monster is a strongest critism of the tendency to treat financial journalism as entertainment, and in other ways it is simply a hype-driven coverage of the stock market. Either way, Foster mentions that we are in fact living in an age where the financial industry and entertainment industry are intertwined in ways she has purposefully attempted to satirise throughout the film.
Foster approached Money Monster as a character piece – but one with unique directing impediments … and some funny bits too …
“In some ways, it’s an experiment – and I love genre movies – to figure out a way to use the genre as a backdrop and still really have character and a sophisticated dialogue about meaningful topics and have them be in the foreground.”
Money Monster’s greatest strength lies in its portrayal of greed as the ultimate crime, juxtaposed with a disadvantaged minority who lays down his life to bring justice. But Money Monster registers less of an indictment of financial corruption than as an exploration of one man’s greed. It may be a Hollywood melodrama, but it is in the top of the range. It gives Clooney and Roberts every opportunity to demonstrate star power, and the refreshing opportunity to create a picture about anti-heroes rather than super-heroes.
Side Note: Keep an eye out for vines at the end of the film, I promise they will ease any tension or rage you may experience throughout the film.