Money Monster is a spritely, pacy directorial return from Jodie Foster, and another film that turns a critical eye toward frenzied stock markets, big business and the continuing fallout of the global financial crisis. The themes tackled are prominent and well worn: justice, wealth and a rigged financial system. However it struggles to say anything particularly original or enlightening about a capitalist system with its intellectual foundations rooted in structural inequality and false meritocracy, which leaves a competent but generally uninteresting picture to zip along until its predictably fatal denouement.
George Clooney stars as Lee Gates, an obnoxious, amoral TV host of the titular Money Monster, which offers viewers dubious tips on where to invest their money. It is a garish nightmare of a programme that is very much in touch with the social media age: quick cuts to short viral clips, irritating sound effects, ludicrous back-up dancing and the sight of Gates in a variety of shameless attire (warning: boxing gloves and top hats included). His put-upon producer Patty (a nice, understated performance from Julia Roberts) attempts to keep Gates in check, but it seems she may have finally had enough of his trash, blowhard shtick. The day is disrupted when a working class truck driver, Kyle (Jack O’Connell), breaks onto the set, aims a gun at Gates’s head and forces him into a bomb vest. Kyle had lost his savings on the back of a Gates tip, which demanded investment into a shady company run by a shadier CEO (Dominic West, on suitably crooked form). A frantic inquisition into guilt and responsibility ensues as the cameras stay on, the animosity and tension fluctuating like a stock market forecast while pleas of transparency ironically remain unheard.
O’Connell makes a decent fist of presenting a financially naive, semi-articulate young man pushed to the point of implosion. Clooney ambles through his role, displaying the full range of smugness to desperation as events unfold. Money Monster suffers from the usual problem with films associated with money markets: the necessity to provide dull expository dialogue that explains obscure financial jargon. But the larger problem is with the film’s incurious politics, which simply reproduces the sterile debate regarding unfettered, vulture capitalism and the exploited, deserving poor. This is a well-made film, but there is more interest to be found in starting a hedge fund.
Money Monster is released nationwide on 27th May 2016.
Watch the trailer for Money Monster here: