If there was ever a movie that I never thought would have a sequel it was Oliver Stone’s Wall Street. The first one came out in 1987. Yes, that long ago. Twenty-three years later we’re getting a sequel. I guess the economic status of the country, and the world, lent itself too perfectly to another story about the greedy Wall Street ninja, Gordon Gekko played by Michael Douglas.
Nobody out there plays mean so well. Douglas is rarely a “good guy” in his movies. Rather he plays flawed characters that have obsessions they can’t control, and egos they can’t maintain. Gordon Gekko is the quintessential egomaniac. Even though he’s been sent to prison he still feels like once he’s out he can take the world by storm. For those of you that haven’t seen the original Wall Street (which I recommend you see before checking out this movie) Gordon Gekko deals with insider trading. All he cares about is making money, at the detriment of friends and family. He’ll step on anyone in his way to make a few bucks. That’s just the kind of guy he is.
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps continues on with Gekko’s story. He’s just getting out of prison. A prison guard is giving him back his personal effects. He pulls out one of those giant gray cell phones that were the first cell phones on the market. We realize just how much time has passed, but Gekko isn’t behind the curve at all. He gets out and promptly writes a book and does speaking tours. The time is 2008, right before the economic collapse that led us to the dire straights we find ourselves in today.
Gekko has a daughter, who’s all grown up now. Her name is Winnie, and she’s played by the ever enchanting Carey Mulligan who is one of the premier young actresses out there. Winnie is estranged from her father, mostly because he spent all her childhood trying to accumulate wealth instead of trying to be her father.
Winnie is going to marry Jake Moore (Shia LaBeouf). Jake is an up-and-coming Wall Street youngster who specializes in alternative energy investments. How one goes about getting a career like that is anyone’s guess, but I guess that’s the point. Stone paints a portrait of Wall Street as a bunch of people who think they own the world, but really what do they even do? They speculate, and move money from one stock to another. That’s it.
Stone takes through a fictional journey that intersects with the sub-prime mortgage fiasco, major banks failing, and bailouts. When the financial house that Jake works for is allowed to fail (think Lehman Brothers) he finds himself wondering what’s going to happen to him and his soon-to-be wife. Behind Winnie’s back, Jake gets in touch with Gordon and secretly tries to bring their family back together while using Gordon to help him get revenge on the guy he believes sunk his bank in the first place. That guy is Bretton James (Josh Brolin). The perfect bad guy for bad financial times. He schemes, connives, and bribes to get his way. He sits in his mansion worrying about percentage points, while regular Joes everywhere work to make ends meat. He’s easy to hate.
Stone’s direction has become weird, but it’s still as preachy as ever. If you’re not a fan of Oliver Stone, then Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps isn’t the movie for you. If you’re a fan however, you’ll be surprised at how smoothly Stone weaves a tale of love and betrayal juxtaposed with one of the biggest financial calamities our country