In the 1980’s ‘greed was good’, what one had was never quite good enough, more was required, more was desired, more was taken and more was what some people got; but at what price? This was essentially the plotline of the excellen movie Wall Street. Greed is Good became the famous and often quoted catchphrase that merchant bankers in the real world seem never to have quite forgotten, perhaps those simple three words are now taught to them by the established avarice merchants of the worlds leading banks. In the original movie the morality of greed was found to be lackign and the anti hero Gordon Gekko eventually falls onto his sword and is jailed for his crimes.
Jump forward a generation and along comes an older, grayer, but is he wiser Gordon Gekko as he prepares to re-enter normal life after years behind bars; but what exactly is normal life anyway, especially for one who had previously surrounded himself with money and all its trappings? Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps sadly not will not add a second Oscar to Michael Douglas’ trophy cabinet – but he still brings to life the slimey, manipulative, cavalier and devil may care attitude of a high level banker.
Banking and the global money system is perhaps too easy a target for a movie about revenge and set as it is in an era of depression and austerity for many leaves a bad and bitter taste in the mouth – but anyone who lived through the 1980’s can recall how everyone wanted to live the life of luxury homes and yachts, fast cars and even faster women, it was all many of us wanted in life. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps sees, if we can believe it, a sea change in Gordon Gekko as extreme as night and day. A man that extreme in the first place could never completely change that completely. He put his hand in the cookier jar and his fingers got burnt yes, but really? Now, whilst, not scared of the system, he sees that exploitation is perhaps not the best course for the common good to prevail, I cannot believe he could have become that ultruistic.
The plot is remarkably straightforward – Gordon Gekko is released in 2008 from prison clutching his 1980’s icons and belongings, including a cell phone the size of a house brick and a poignant gold money clip.
He emerges into a world of finance transformed by new ideas, new faces and new technology and one to which he is barred by his criminal conviction. he decides to sell his memories when he pens a best selling book, who premise is ‘The mother of all evils is speculation. It’s a global disease, like cancer, and we’ve got to fight back.”
Gekko does fight back when Louis Zabel, played by Frank Langella commits suicide after his company is bought out from under him by Brettan James (Josh Brolin). James is a visous man who treads on anyone on his way to more power and wealth. Louis Zabel was a mentor to Jake Moore (Shia LaBeouf) and the young man vows revenge and enlists the help of Gordon Gekko to achieve it.
The only problem is that Gekko is the father of his girlfriend Winnie (Carey Mulligan) and father and daughter have not spoken in years.
The movie sadly relies too much on convenience and contravancies to make director Oliver Stone’s second foray into Wall Street a complete success.