Starring: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O’Connell
Genre: Drama/ Thriller
Financial expert and TV presenter Lee Gates (Clooney) presents the hit TV show ‘Money Monster’ in which he gives viewers advice in where to invest their money. Kyle Budwell (O’Connell), who lost all of his money after following Gates’ advice, storms the television studio and, armed with a gun and explosives, takes Gates and his entire crew hostage. Now Gates and his producer Patty Fenn (Roberts) must find a way to defuse the situation without risking the lives of everyone in the studio.
Ever since the financial crash, we have certainly had a fair few films that have pointed the finger at those apparently responsible, but also those that are part of the financial recklessness and therefore must take some of the blame for both the financial crash and the fact that the gap between the apparent haves and have nots in Western society is increasing. Well, Money Monster initially appears to be an engaging commentary on this quite emotive, topical and pertinent notion, but after a promising start just well and truly fails to capitalise on its potential.
All the ingredients really are there for a promising start: we have Jack O’Connell’s supposed everyman wanting to finally ask questions of these people who are wealthy beyond everyone else’s wildest dreams and challenge them directly. Of course, Clooney’s character is just a media spin man who may certainly be full of bluster, but he is not crooked or corrupt. Plot revelations lead to the real reason that Kyle lost his money, and this is down to the head of a company (played by a predictably slippery Dominic West) and his questionable ethics.
Perhaps Jodie Foster and her screenwriters Jamie Lindon and Alan DiFiore thought they were making a 21st century morality tale, but unfortunately Money Monster not only fails to tell even the most casual follower of current affairs anything they do not already know, but its plot gets increasingly silly and disjointed, meaning that any potential substance it may have had is soon diminished.
It does genuinely feel like the screenwriters made the plot up as they went along, as Money Monster does admittedly remain watchable due to the fact it is intriguing just how everyone involved is finally going to give up and end the damn thing (the charismatic performances of Clooney and O’Connell also help). However, it is almost impossible to care, and that not only makes it a highly forgettable film, but surely defeats the object of the point that Foster and her screenwriters are trying to make with this film.
The performances are solid, with Clooney and O’Connell providing solid screen presence in their performances, but also providing a decent on-screen chemistry as the narrative develops. The first 30 minutes is genuinely tense, but then silliness gives way to tension. The narrative arc of Clooney’s character (which admittedly feels a little synthetic) leads to a budding bromance between the two characters which helps make the film watchable, but nowhere near as thrilling as it should have been.
However, while Clooney and O’Connell certainly do solid work, apart from a couple of times where she tells Clooney’s character to “play it cool” the messy nature of the narrative makes Julia Robert’s character feel not only at the total mercy of the narrative when she should be controlling it, but is genuinely surplus to requirements.
As the narrative gets progressively silly and reaches its finale which is both bizarre and a total anti-climax, it proves that Money Monster is a classic example of an initial good idea, but those involved lacking the vision, discipline or creativity to utilise it, and the result is a vacuous film of increasing silliness.
A real waste of potential; Money Monster has a great initial concept and idea, and the cast to see this through. Though it admittedly remains watchable, it is just let down by an increasingly silly story that strips it of any genuine tension or credibility.