An occasionally intense, fairly engaging and ultimately disposable hostage thriller, Money Monster goes out of its way to avoid the heady, deep-end-of-the-pool intricacies its trailer or poster or casting might imply… It’s a solid enough film, but could never swim in waters churned by the likes of, say, Wall Street, Network, The Big Short or Margin Call (to name a few). At a briskly efficient 98 minutes, it’s a surface level examination of corporate fraud, stock market analytics, algorithmic nuances, greed, glitches and just how easy it is for some to screw over the hopelessly optimistic and haplessly desperate, bull-market-craving masses. There’s no triteness to this slimmed down approach, but the rat-tat-tat of cable TV media production and consumption plays a large, more important role here – and that’s where Clooney, Roberts and O’Connell shine – adding pleasant doses of humanity and humor to the proceedings. Acting, direction and dialogue may all be on point – but the journey and overall message aren’t breaking any new ground. Money Monster may show us a great deal of things we’ve seen before, but it still remains a timely, breezy and lightly entertaining thing to watch in a dark room while shoving popcorn in your face. It also makes a decent respite for those looking to shield themselves from the blockbuster boys of summer.
Starring: George Clooney, Julia Roberts and Jack O’Connell
Directed by: Jodie Foster (The Beaver, Home for the Holidays and Little Man Tate)
Running time: 1hr. 30min.
Story: Lee Gates is a bombastic TV personality whose popular financial network show has made him the money wiz of Wall Street. But after he hawks a high tech stock that mysteriously crashes, an irate investor takes Gates, his crew, and his ace producer Patty Fenn hostage live on air. Unfolding in real time, Gates and Fenn must find a way to keep themselves alive while simultaneously uncovering the truth behind a tangle of big money lies.