RELEASED 2016 RUNTIME 98 MIN LANGUAGE ENGLISH DIRECTION JODIE FOSTER SCREENPLAY GEORGE CLOONEY, JULIA ROBERTS, JACK O’CONNELL, DOMINIC WEST, CAITRIONA BALFE, GIANCARLO ESPOSITO MUSIC DOMINIC LEWIS
Money Monster is a thriller by director Jodie Foster, who you may better know as an actress.
It stars George Clooney as a TV host of a Wall Street show and Julia Roberts as his producer, who find themselves in a hostage situation, when a young investor violently takes over their studio.
I really dig this movie. It’s an intense thriller in a confined space. The first half takes place entirely in a TV production studio and then it branches out onto the streets of the Wall Street district in NYC.
The performances are really great throughout the film. We of course have Julia Roberts and George Clooney as the big stars and I really don’t have to tell you much about what they bring to the screen. It’s always good. Still, I often seem to have trouble to really see the character shine through their persona because of their stardom. But both work really great in their roles. Especially George Clooney fits his role like a glove as a cocky TV host of a financial show.
But really the standout of the film is Jack O’Connell who plays the young investor become terrorist. His performance is mesmerizing. You totally buy him as the desperate young guy who lost a lot of money. Essentially, his character is what drives the movie. The situation he finds himself in is something we all could face if blindly gambling with our money and trusting the financial system of Wall Street without really knowing how it works. In a way he is our protagonist and villain at the same time. Yes, you could argue it’s clearly George Clooney’s movie, but when you think about the plot and what the film tries to portray, Jack O’Connell is the one we are supposed to care about.
Caitriona Balfe is also in the film playing a substantial role. I found her part to be very interesting as well. She plays a CFO of the company that blew the moneyed their investors despite being very stable and on the uprise. Her role is more that of an investigator who tries to figure out how that could have happened. However, there is one problem with her being present in the movie that much, which I will get to later.
What I found really good is the mirror it holds up in front of us. Jack O’Connell naively trusts a TV show that tells him where to put his money. When it all blows, Jack looses his mind and turns into a terrorist. Of course that’s a bit extreme and we would never do that (right?!). However, when you understand his backstory and how much money he actually invested, his situation becomes much more understandable. But not only that, his voice becomes the voice of many people who get mislead by TV shows and you can’t help but root for him in a weird way. You don’t want him to succeed with his methods, but you don’t want him to fail either. It’s a very interesting dynamic that’s working for the plot.
Unfortunately, somewhere towards the middle his role gets extremely reduced because the story takes a turn and kind of distracts from what has been effectively set up. It then becomes a detective story with Caitriona Balfe’s character in the center of it. It’s not that her role is bad or anything, but it shouldn’t be there in my opinion, or at least not being told from her perspective, but from O’Connel’s, Clooney’s and Julia Robert’s characters.
But maybe, the bigger problem with that is, we all know the outcome. We all know what went down behind the curtains, so the reveal isn’t really surprising at all. That’s basically the biggest gripe I give the movie. The 3rd act just doesn’t work. It is very predictable and drags the movie down to something very generic. I definitely would have liked it to stay on target, so to speak. It’s not like it really destroys the movie or anything. It still works and is nice to watch, but it could have been so much deeper than what it ends up being – a thriller with a mustache twirling villain, instead of a thriller about a character finding himself torn between his emotional impulses and extreme dilemma who wants to do the right thing with the wrong methods.
That being said, I still had tons of fun with the film and think Jodie Foster did a great job directing. It’s an intense thriller with some levity sprinkled in (especially some of the social media commentary is pretty hilarious), but never to the point of being comedic or unrealistic. I also like the end , even though it’s not what should have been. But at least it brings it back full circle to Jack’s character’s story and has a strong message after all, although muddled.
If you want to see a nice thriller with great performances and relevance (we all care about our finances but mistrust the financial system) then feel good about Money Monster. It’s a good time. Just don expect anything mind blowing.