Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (let’s just call it Wall Street 2) is one of those sequels that probably didn’t have to be made. It’s well-made with good performances and all, and it takes advantage of the GFC to tell a story, but at the end of the day, it didn’t have a whole lot to offer.
The plot is relatively simple. Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglass) is released from prison after his misdeeds from the first film. Jacob Moore (Shia LaBeouf) is a stock broker (the ‘new’ Charlie Sheen) dating Gekko’s daughter Winnie (Carey Mulligan). Josh Brolin is some ambitious rich dude from a big bank. Throw in the GFC and some Oliver Stone mastery, and there’s your movie.
For me, what made the first Wall Street so memorable was that trading floor intensity, that cut-throat environment, the making and breaking of fortunes in an instant — essentially, the adrenaline rush of Wall Street (the street, not the film). I didn’t get any sense of that in Wall Street 2, even though, 23 years after the original, there were a lot more zeros at the end of all the numbers. For the majority of the 127 minute running time, the film felt slow, flat and uninvolving. We all knew what was going to happen. That didn’t mean the story couldn’t be exciting, but I never really got into it. Maybe it was because I just had no sympathy for any of the characters.
Gordon Gekko is a terrific character, and it was an interesting angle to see him rejoining a society that appeared to have moved on without him. Michael Douglass injects that same slickness into the character he did 23 years ago, but makes him an even more sad and pathetic man this time. That said, I still knew what was going to happen, and was not at all surprised by the turns in the film.
Shia LaBeouf felt wrong for the part. I liked him in Disturbia and thought he was well-suited to Transformers, but I couldn’t picture him in this role. To me, he still seemed too young, too scrawny, too juvenile. Don’t get me wrong, I still think he is a terrific actor, but he didn’t convince me as Jacob.
As for Carey Mulligan, well, she played a pretty thankless character. I know she’s the next big thing but I didn’t like her in this movie. Again, solid performance, but I had no sympathy for her as Gekko’s daughter. And she always had these retarded expressions on her face that really irritated me.
The standout had to be Josh Brolin. The dude can flat out act and he was by far the most interesting character in the whole film.
So as I said at the start of this review, Wall Street 2 didn’t have to be made. It was well-executed, well-acted and provided an insight into the nature of greed at one of the most tumultuous economic times in history — but for me, it didn’t add anything to the Wall Street legacy, and it wasn’t much more than average.
Oh, and I hated the ending.
2.75 stars out of 5