Friday, May 13, 2016

Money Monster [2016]

MPAA (R)  CNS/USCCB (A-III)  ChicagoTribune (2 1/2 Stars) (2 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (D+)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. McAleer) review
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review (C. Lemire) review
AVClub (J. Hassenger) review

Money Monster [2016] (directed by Jodie Foster, screenplay by Jamie Linden, Alan DiFiore and Jim Kouf, story by Alan DiFiore and Jim Kouf) is a film that at least initially may seem "to go flat" / disappoint, after what would seem to have been a CAN'T MISS / COMPELLING / EVEN SCARY "HOOK" ...

An angry and DESPERATE blue-collarish man in his mid-late 20s, named Kyle (played quite convincingly by Jack O'Connell) posing as "a delivery guy" comes onto the set of a live absurdly amped-up CNBC-like "Financial Advice" television show hosted by an as _empty_ (in oh so many ways) a "talking head" as one could imagine ... an ever smiling, well cut guy named "Lee Gates" (played close to "Las Vegas" / "circus act" perfection by George Clooney) who MAY or MAY NOT have a clue what he's talking about BUT ... you "listen TO HIM" because ... well, HE (somehow) "looks like" someone who'd know what he's talking about.

Well 20-something Kyle HAD LISTENED to that guy ... and LOST $60K, EVERYTHING THAT HE HAD, on a stock tip that Lee had IRRESPONSIBLY promoted AS A SURE THING (more reliable than gravity, more reliable than sunrise and sunset ...) before it suddenly TANKED one fine morning (before recovering) due to a "computer glitch."  That "glitch" cost that firm, IBIS (sounds vaguely "Evil" like ISIS ...)  $850 million, and ... Kyle, his $60K life savings.

So in the name of EVERY certainly naive, and perhaps simply not particularly bright, "small time investor" who's ever been F-ed by Wall Street, Kyle comes onset WITH A GUN and A COUPLE OF EXPLOSIVES LADEN VESTS -- one for Lee, the other for the a-hole CEO of IBIS -- demanding "answers."

Again, the "hook" is compelling, SCARY and perhaps even IRRESPONSIBLE.  After all, there could be ALL KINDS OF PREVIOUSLY _STEPPED-UPON_ PEOPLE watching this film, who honestly MAY be tempted now to "act out" in a similar way... 

So, of course, the film makers KNEW that they COULDN'T let Kyle get away with this.  SIMPLE MORALITY DEMANDS that we NOT take people (audience members) to the edge of contemplating something really, really stupid, without "walking them back"

But the film makers COULDN'T "walk Kyle back" from this.  So, yes, IT SIMPLY HAS TO "END BAD" FOR HIM.  But what now ...

Up to this point, the film honestly may seem like A MALE "THELMA AND LOUISE [1991]" :-) with poor, dumb, even if "right" in this case Kyle needing "to die"

BUT THIS IS WHERE THE FILM BECOMES INTERESTING.  For if one considered ONLY THE MEN, the film leads to Death / Destruction -- Kyle's death, Lee's exposition as an idiot, the CEO of IBIS's exposition as at least some kind of a fraud -- BUT ...

... there were MORE than just men in this film ;-)

The WOMEN, ALL in "SECONDARY ROLES" (often with ONE obvious exception in "behind the scenes" roles) offer ALTERNATIVES _if only_ the others (the men) would listen to them:

There's Patty Fenn (played magnificently by Julia Roberts), Lee Gates' ever calm amidst on-set chaos director managing the now UTTERLY CHAOTIC SITUATION _on her set_ with an almost "regal wisdom" of a Queen of Sheba if not Solomon, and CERTAINLY _better_ than the NYPD who seem to see only (ever crazier) shooting scenarios to bring the situation to an end;

There's Molly (played utterly unforgettably by Emily Meade), Kyle's girlfriend, who's 2-3 maybe 5 minute performance on the film UTTERLY STEALS THE SHOW as she speaks utterly unforgettable truth reminding truly EVERYONE that she's part of this story too

Finally there's Diane Lester (played by Caitriona Balfe) IBIS's "Communications Director, at least initially seeming to be "the only woman of any consequence" at The Firm, and certainly one who was being "asked to dance" (for "The Firm") in front of the cameras, "paid to explain" WHAT SHE HERSELF WAS NOT PRIVY TO ... what happened when IBIS' stock "dipped" like it did on that fateful day.  But "Dancing for Thieves / Liars" was NOT exactly what Diane grew-up wanting to do ...

All in all, this makes for a VERY INTERESTING FILM ... and NOT ONE that one would have initially expected.  On one hand, the film ends the way it had to end.  But on the other ... the film-makers remind us that IT COULD HAVE ALL GONE DIFFERENTLY ;-)


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