All-singing, all-dancing TV anchor
Held at gunpoint by fierce anti-banker
Screenplay Cinematography Performance
Your career is careering from career to career. Your relationship is like a James Bond Martini: shaken, not stirred, but definitely on the rocks. And like a classic Country and Western wrist-slasher, your truck has broken down and your dog has up and died. So to cheer yourself up and stave off the inevitable, you decide to take a punt on the lottery – but the number of balls have risen from 49 to 59, thus increasing your already astronomical odds of winning. A tad disgruntled, you put a fistful of dollars on a football coupon – but the so-called “fixed odds” have shifted, not in your favour. Completely peeved, you blow the lot at one of Tony Blair’s much-trumped Super Casinos – which were kicked into the long grass because the powers-at-be decided that it would lead to “social disorder”. As the old song goes: Into each life some rain must fall!
However, if you’ve got a wad of wonga in your alliterative wallet or a string of investments in your offshore tax haven or a horde of bullion bars in your secret Swiss bank vault, batter on. In fact, why not go even further. Why not lightly regulate the financial sector? Why not make a killing by selling subprime mortgages to people without a dime? Or in the case of Walt Camby (Dominic West), the boo-hiss CEO of the “pig in a prom dress” investment company IBIS Global Capital, why not squander $800 million of shareholders’ money – $60,000 of which was the life savings of down-on-his-luck truck driver Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell) – in a failed and fraudulent high-risk investment into a South African platinum mine? As another old song goes: Oops, there goes another rubber tree plant!
Such is the backdrop to this terrific thriller by director Jodie Foster and her trio of writers Alan Di Fiore, Jim Kouf and Jamie Linden which charts how one blue-collar worker rages against the machine of big business, government and the media – and when I say rages, I mean rages, because he interrupts a live broadcast of Money Monster hosted by financial guru Lee Gates (George Clooney) armed with a pair of explosive vests and a semi-automatic handgun – in a desperate attempt to hold the powerful to account and get some answers to a series of simple questions. How did this so-called “algorithm glitch” which led to an overnight 90% drop in IBIS’s trade value happen? Why was it allowed to happen? And the $800 million question: who is responsible, who is to blame?
The performances by George Clooney and Julia Roberts as his jaded television director Patty Fenn are top-notch, particularly Clooney who alternates between all-singing, all-dancing anchorman to fearing-for-his-life mortal at the drop of the Dow Jones on BlackMonday. Jack O’Connell, who has made great strides in Hollywood since his breakthrough performances in the nitty-gritty British dramas’71 and Starred Up, is perfectly cast as the blue-collar Everyman Kyle Budwell. And the editing by the Oscar-nominated Matt Cheese (Finding Neverland), much like the writing and direction, is short, snappy and every bit as integral to the success of the film than the casting. What really lifts Money Monster from being mildly satisfying to thoroughly enjoyable though is the humour, as evidenced by the dry-as-a-bone cameraman Lenny (Lenny Venito) who when asked by the armed hostage-taker why his forehead is dripping with sweat replies: “I don’t like lifts.”
Reviewer : Peter Callaghan