Sunday, October 2, 2016

Film Review: Money Monster (2016)

Copyright: TriStar Pictures
We all got hurt in one way or another by the recession of 2008/09. While reasons for the crash are beyond most of us, many instinctively blamed the trader/broker/banker characters of the world, especially the US.

The same sentiment was founded on numerous elements, but the biggest cornerstone was the idea that those behind the reigns of this failed venture did not suffer when the excrement hit the fan.

Money Monster draws most of its energy on this premise and wants to serve one back to the financial community and at least in this fictional domain, make them sweat for what they have done and continue to do. But, no one can threaten them financially, so here a man decides to move his vengeance to the realm of bodily harm.

Directed by Jodie Foster, this thriller follows a single day in a studio where a money advisory TV show, led by Lee Gates (played by George Clooney) becomes a victim of a viewer who lost all of his money on one of Gates’ suggestions. Armed with a handgun, he places a bomb on Gates and demands that the network finds out what really happened (the official story blames the loss on a glitch in an automated trading algorithm).

Films like this one and, for example, John Q could be placed in a genre of their own which could be called Righteous Hostage Takes. But, instead of providing anything of any marginal value, Foster’s film once again shows that the US consciousness is still terrified of a potential 1917 Tsarist Russia scenario, where the downtrodden masses take to arms and end a lineage of wealth and power that began when Mayflower made landfall centuries before.

In the movie, Foster tries her best to show that the victim and the unwitting accomplice (Gates) can work together for the greater good, fighting the real evil as they finally make it out, emerging from the shadows. But, below this Kumbaya story, there a deep-rooted anxiety which inexplicably seeps out from the façade – the slaves are getting restless, they sense a disturbance in the force of wealth, so let’s serve them fantasies that are both satisfying (the bad bankers get what’s coming to them) and pacifying (we are all victims, after all).

It’s possible that I’m reading too much into all of this, but it’s difficult to enjoy this film on any level without accepting that there are bucket loads of emotional charge that cannot be properly directed, so it’s left to kind of eat its own tail and try to implode. On moments, a solid cast and unexpected snippets of events, like the appearance of the girlfriend of the hijacker, do provide a bit of freshness. However, aside from this, Money Monster remains just another piece of faulty financial flag-waving with a simple message:

“Do not rise up dear oppressed peasants. There’s still plenty cake left for you to eat.”