Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
It was 1987 when Michael Douglas portrayed a character so profound, that despite Director Oliver Stone’s intentions, the character became an icon. That character was Gordon Gekko and he became the symbol for what was wrong in the late 80’s with Wall Street. It has been 23 years since Douglas uttered those famous words “Greed is Good” and as he reemerge’s from the shadows of obscurity, he brings with him a sense that what is wrong with Wall Street is not just Wall Street but us. Oliver Stone in this sequel once again tackles the question of how money can erode a man’s ethics.
First a foremost Michael Douglas gives us his best performance in years as he reprises the role of Gordon Gekko. Douglas is able to keep the core of the character intact while evolving the character 23 years. He portrays Gekko as a man who is still as focused as ever but with the wisdom of age (and other events which I will not state to keep this spoiler free) has become more crafty in his pursuits. Douglas in his appearance commands the scene and unfortunately for one Shia LaBeouf, shows us how an actor gets it done. The bottom line is Michael Douglas carries this film on his own for the most part and his performance is the only real reason to see this film.
Which brings us to the rest and I begin with Director Oliver Stone who seems to have lost the ability to come up with an original idea. Basically the film plays out as Shia LaBeouf replacing Charlie Sheen. LaBeouf is the upcoming financial golden boy (who by the way I found hard to believe because his “risks” didn’t pan out) that struggle with his set of ethics and making money. While Stone does give us some of the best scenery shots I have seen in a long time I was disappointed in the direction the other characters of the film took. Where Stone does fork into a new avenue of exploration is in the relationship between LaBeouf and Carey Mulligan (playing Gordon’s daughter Winnie Gekko). While the relationship is meant to symbolize the balance of money and ethics, it quickly dissolves into a tired melodrama of trust issues.
Shia LaBeouf, simply put, is out of his element in this movie. He seems lost, overwhelmed and in short miscast. In every scene with Michael Douglas and Josh Brolin it was Douglas or Brolin who carried the young actor. My hope is that LaBeouf learns from this experience, but chances are since he is “hot” right now he will continue to phone in his roles.
In the end Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is a mediocre film that has a great individual performance by Michael Douglas.
Give a listen to our Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps episode. We talk money, bird sounds, and props that cry.