Jodie Foster is well known for her work as an actress, but has many directorial roles under her belt. After three films and a couple of television episodes (notably Orange Is The New Black and House Of Cards), she’s back with her new film, Money Monster.
Money Monster star George Clooney, Julia Roberts and Jack O’Connell and is directed by Jodie Foster. Lee Gates (Clooney) hosts the Wall Street consumer advice show Money Monster. After his advice means delivery man Kyle (O’Connell) loses all his money, he is taken hostage by Kyle on live television.
George Clooney plays totally against type as Wall Street expert Lee Gates. Clooney is known for playing the suave, charismatic type, but Gates is more of a slimy character than usual. He got to where he is by his quick wits and ability to not let his emotions get in his way. His bravado soon come crashing down when Kyle bursts in, placing a pistol to the back of his head. It’s similar to his role from Up In The Air, but he’s much more in the thick of the action rather than flying from place to place.
Since the film is about economics and stocks and data, it would be easy to compare Money Monster to The Big Short due to the similar subject matter. But instead of focussing on the money and traders, it keeps it all mostly on the television and the media, which is more tying in with Network. The film cuts away to several groups watching the drama unfold on their televisions, tweeting and vining ( is that how you write the verb “to vine”?) and other news outlets jumping in to say their piece on what and why it’s happening. The film is putting it’s politics into the media rather than onto the bankers, which is a different take on films that focus on the economic collapse. Sadly, the characters on the outside aren’t very likable; playing out certain events to make O’Connell’s Kyle step up his demands or general apathy, turning away from gunfire on the television back to a table football game. It went for it, but I think it might have worked better if they just stuck to a hostage rescue scenario. Sometimes the wider story, about corrupt businesses and strikes and external forces went a bit too paranoid for me, with some of it being totally confusing as to how it profited the bankers.
Most of the film takes place in the Money Monster set. This containment keeps all the tension in one place and our attention solely on Clooney, O’Donnell and Julia Roberts as Gates’ producer Patty. However, the story keeps moving on so that when we do finally leave the set for the streets of New York and then to Federal Hall it doesn’t lose that small-room tension. Monsey Monster keeps building it’s tension by adding more and more layers to the conspiracy at the centre and then suddenly pulling a stabilising part of the puzzle away, making Kyle become much more erratic after he had been calm for an extended period of time. The film is at its best when we are with the three leads, losing the tension and turning into more of a comedy when it moves to other characters. There is some dark humour displayed by Clooney and O’Connell but the film works better as a thriller.
In summary, Money Monster is a good tense film, dissecting how the media works and generates stories. It often seems a bit too upfront about it subject manner, it’s morals as well as sometimes being confusing and expositional but overall it’s enjoyable.
Score: 7/10 Good for 90 minutes but not essential viewing.