Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps - DVD Review

'At one point, the cameoing Oliver Stone is shown looking at a screen of the financial markets and slowly shaking his head. No greater metaphor for the general message of Money Never Sleeps is possible'

At times, Oliver Stone's Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps fizzes and fires with the crackling dialogue of a thriller that effortlessly sucks you in. Think The Social Network but delivered slightly slower and with less content about code and lawsuits and more content about fiscal markets and housing prices. The middle hour oozes with slick Stone visuals and lovely, largely cliche-free, dialogue from Allan Loeb and Stephen Schiff.

Hanging over it though are large and imposing problems, the most blatant of which is Winnie (Carey Mulligan), one of the worst, most misogynist, female characters Hollywood has berthed in the last few years. Winnie makes no decisions of her own and is marginalised by men whose bank balances roughly equate to there egos. She is traded between them like a poker chip, rarely given the chance to speak her mind and palmed off with a loose liberal job that ensures her insignificance in the narrative. At the conclusion, Stone, Loeb and Schiff have the temerity to suggest that she has got what she wants. She hasn't. She's been forced to accept the whims and desires of the men in her life and Stone has had her do it all with a smile on her face. It is disgusting to watch.

The other major problem is Stone's own liberal fist-shaking. At one point, the cameoing director is shown looking at a screen of the financial markets and slowly shaking his head. No greater metaphor for the general message of Money Never Sleeps is possible. Long sections are comprised of Stone pausing the narrative to metaphorically shake his head at Wall Street's money men. The fact that he has himself do it literally only serves to show that he's not convinced in the strength of his own arguments, which often feel obvious and ill-thought out.

Other minor annoyances start to creep in. In Gordon Gekko's (Michael Douglas) comeback speech - the partner to Wall Street's 'greed is good' effort - Stone fade-cuts on numerous occasions, literally cutting Gekko off in his prime. It manipulates the power of Douglas' delivery, reducing it and, ultimately, rendering Gekko an impotent imitator of his persona from the first film.

At times there is fun to be had but as the film drags on through its over-played two hours they're increasingly difficult to find. Shia LaBeouf is better than normal, slowing his speech in an effort to fit in with the other, older, screen presences and Douglas, Josh Brolin and others are as watchable as ever but there's just too much vying for your attention and a lot of it isn't up to snuff. It's ultimately distasteful and disappointing, redundant even; a poor imitator of the first film.

Look further...

'the story is overrun by the soapie story of Winnie forgiving Gekko. Its nice to watch, but sometimes it feels like it belongs to another film' - Cinematic Paradox, 6/10


  1. Shia LeBeouf can't act. I love how you have written in WS that he actually slows his speech down to comprehensive levels!! I'm thinking of the hideous turn in the recent Transformers 3 and his seemingly cocaine inspired job interviews that so infuriated me!
    I wish that I'd seen the first film just to compare it off against this. I must admit that I didn't mind it when I saw in theatre as my expectations weren't high. But in saying that it isn't a great film by any stretch of the imagiation.
    It sort of left me neutral, here nor there, shrugging my shoulders. In other words the world would not haver stopped spinning if I had failed to see it!!

  2. Michael Douglas, Eli Wallach, and Frank Langella were the only people in that movie that kept it from being a complete disaster.

    Other than that, there was so much about that film that I absolutely hated. Shia LaBeouf at times carries a smug look in his face that makes me wanna bitch slap the little shit. Carey Mulligan spends half her time in that movie crying and moping which was excruciating to watch considering how much I like her in films like An Education and Never Let Me Go.

    Then you have the very unnecessary cameo by Charlie Sheen as Bud Fox. WTF? Where did that come from? I recently saw the first film again and I don't buy the fact that Bud Fox would become extremely rich from turning his dad's company into something bigger. I would expect him to be more humbled and such. This was just wrong.

    Oliver Stone for me now is a filmmaker who is losing his touch. After the bloated Alexander, the overblown World Trade Center and having W. look like a bad SNL parody. If he can't make one more good film, there ain't a shadow of a doubt that he doesn't have what it takes anymore and should just fucking retire!

  3. BRENT - those job interviews were awful. Potentially the worst moments in the film (and that's saying something). I didn't think he was anywhere near as bad here but even with a solid-ish turn from him the film is still a complete mess.

    thevoid99 - Stone hasn't had a good run has he. I think he needs to stop trying to find a wordly message in all his projects and just focus on telling a solid narrative. Mulligan's character in this is awful, the single worst part of it for me by a long way. And yes, meeting Fox at a party doesn't seem right. It was a nice idea but, like so much of the rest of the film, it's completely miss-handled.