Money never sleeps

Oliver Stone was making a statement on the glibly money-hungry times when his Wall Street came out in 1987 and, with it, the iconic figure of Gordon Gekko declaring that greed, for lack of a better word, was good.

Michael Douglas portrays Gordon Gekko

Michael Douglas portrays Gordon Gekko

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

Classification: PG-13 for brief strong language and thematic elements.

Running time: 133 minutes.

Rating: Three stars out of four.

Oliver Stone was making a statement on the glibly money-hungry times when his Wall Street came out in 1987 and, with it, the iconic figure of Gordon Gekko declaring that greed, for lack of a better word, was good.

Twenty-three years later, greed is still getting a lot of people into a lot of trouble. The entire country, in fact. And so Stone’s latest, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, is the rare sequel that not only feels relevant but necessary.

Of course, his hindsight is 20/20. Everyone’s is. But here, Stone takes the economic collapse of 2008 and places Gekko — played masterfully by Michael Douglas, returning to the role that earned him an Academy Award — in the middle of it. Having been released from federal prison after serving time for securities fraud, money laundering and racketeering, Gekko is now free to swim among even more dangerous sharks than he ever dreamed of being himself. The question becomes: How will he react? Will he use his shrewdness to try and beat them at their game, or will he actually have found a moral centre during his time behind bars?

That story line alone could have provided the basis for one meaty, worthwhile movie. Money Never Sleeps also crams in a father-daughter story, a few different mentor-protege stories and a romance. It’s big and loud and brash in an almost operatic way — and knowingly, joyfully so. For a movie about a depressing topic that we’re all-too familiar with, Money Never Sleeps is surprisingly entertaining.

The dialogue from Allan Loeb and Stephen Schiff is biting and propulsive, and the hugely esteemed ensemble cast is a kick. Besides Douglas, who’s better than ever even as a toned-down snake, Shia LaBeouf is solid as an ambitious young trader — he feels like a grown-up, finally — and the two stars have a couple of electric exchanges.

But there are plenty of showy supporting roles, as well. A beefed-up, suspendered Frank Langella provides both gravitas and humour as founder of the powerful Keller Zabel Investments; he also serves as a father figure to LaBeouf’s Jacob Moore. Susan Sarandon chews up the scenery as Jacob’s tacky, talkative mother, a former nurse who’s been enjoying the good life as a high-end Long Island real estate agent. And Josh Brolin is a formidable villain as Bretton James, a billionaire partner at a rival investment bank who ruins Keller Zabel with rumours of debt, then arranges a brutal takeover. Just listening to him describe why he has a particular Goya painting in his office is intimidating.

Most of the time, simply through the sheer enormity and force of this juggernaut, it all works. Money Never Sleeps looks fantastic — the work of Oscar-nominated cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto (Brokeback Mountain, Broken Embraces) — with its shimmering aerial shots of Manhattan. The place rises from the Hudson River like Oz, an idealized, bustling city of endless possibility (although Stone didn’t need to add split screens and tickers running through skyscrapers to magnify the sense of movement). Every sleek high-rise office and modern loft offers dazzling views; every character is expensively dressed. As if there weren’t enough ego and testosterone bursting through, Jacob and Bretton even race Ducati motorcycles through the fall foliage to escape the reality of the stock market plummeting.

Yes, it’s over-the-top like that. But fun — for a while. Eventually, “Money Never Sleeps” goes soft and loses its way. The romantic subplot between Jacob and Gekko’s estranged daughter Winnie, of all people, feels needless, even though it does allow for the radiant presence of Carey Mulligan. It also raises some questions: As Gekko himself so astutely wonders, if Winnie hates her father so much, why would she get involved with a man who does the exact same thing, which she found so reprehensible? Jacob’s dream of funding an alternative-energy company is intended to redeem him somewhat, but really, he gets that same gleam in his eyes when it comes to the prospect of getting rich.

And what happens in the last couple of scenes especially stands as a stark and almost laughable contrast to where these characters began and what they’re supposedly made of. Then again, as the song goes, money changes everything.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Red Deer clinical research centre participating in plant-based COVID-19 vaccine trial

A Red Deer research centre has been selected to participate in the… Continue reading

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Red Deer jumps to 449 active COVID-19 cases on Sunday

1,516 new cases identified in Alberta

The QEII was closed Sunday morning due to a pole fire. (Photo courtesy City of Red Deer)
UPDATE: QEII near Red Deer reopens

The QEII has been reopened after being closed due to a pole… Continue reading

Innisfail RCMP are investigating a single-vehicle crash that happened west of Bowden on March 21, 2021. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Bashaw RCMP investigate fatal collision in central Alberta

Bashaw RCMP are investigating after a fatal collision Saturday afternoon. Police were… Continue reading

A damaged unicorn statue is shown in a field outside of Delia, Alta. in this undated handout photo. It's not often police can report that a unicorn has been found, but it was the truth Saturday when RCMP said a stolen, stainless-steel statue of the mythical beast had been located in a field not far from where he'd been taken. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Mounties get their unicorn; stolen statue of mythical beast found in Alberta field

DELIA, Alta. — It’s not often police can report that a unicorn… Continue reading

Investigators from the Vancouver Police Department were in Chilliwack Saturday, collecting evidence connected to a double homicide. (file photo)
Police investigate shooting death of man outside downtown Vancouver restaurant

Vancouver police say one man was killed in what they believe was… Continue reading

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start registering people 18 years and older for COVID-19 vaccines

VICTORIA — The British Columbia government says it’s inviting people 18 years… Continue reading

San Jose's Tomas Hertl, center, celebrates with teammates Patrick Marleau, left, and Rudolfs Blacers, right, after Hertl scored a goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Minnesota Wild, Friday, April 16, 2021, in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)
Patrick Marleau set to break Gordie Howe’s games record

For Patrick Marleau, the best part about Monday night when he is… Continue reading

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Half of U.S. adults have received at least one COVID-19 shot

WASHINGTON — Half of all adults in the U.S. have received at… Continue reading

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Federal government to send health-care workers to Ontario, Trudeau says

MONTREAL — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says federal departments and some Canadian… Continue reading

People cross a busy street in the shopping district of Flushing on Tuesday, March 30, 2021, in the Queens borough of New York. Access to the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States is growing by the day. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kathy Willens
Despite COVID-19 vaccines, Americans in D.C. not feeling celebratory — or charitable

WASHINGTON — This might make Canadians jealous of their American cousins for… Continue reading

A man pays his respects at a roadside memorial in Portapique, N.S. on Thursday, April 23, 2021. RCMP say at least 22 people are dead after a man who at one point wore a police uniform and drove a mock-up cruiser, went on a murder rampage in Portapique and several other Nova Scotia communities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Memorial service in Nova Scotia marks one year since mass shooting started

TRURO, N.S. — A memorial service is planned for today in central… Continue reading

In this April 23, 2016, photo, David Goethel sorts cod and haddock while fishing off the coast of New Hampshire. To Goethel, cod represents his identity, his ticket to middle class life, and his link to one the country's most historic industries, a fisherman who has caught New England's most recognized fish for more than 30 years. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
‘It’s more than just a fish:’ Scientists worry cod will never come back in N.L.

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — The latest assessment of Atlantic cod stocks, whose… Continue reading

Most Read