Director: Jodie Foster (Little Man Tate) Starring: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O’Connell, Caitriona Balfe, Dominic West Verdict: A movie writing cheques its story cannot cash
WHILE Jodie Foster was kicking around the local media traps earlier this week, she took a potshot at the mainstream movie business.
You know, for all those same-again superhero tent-poles coming out every other week.
“They don’t make narratives any more,” Foster told The Australian.
Not like that new movie she’s directed called Money Monster, which Foster boasted is “about relevant things that are happening now, and it’s smart”.
Though Foster is speaking the general truth about the formulaic state of franchise films these days, the rest of her argument is a bit rich.
Particularly when pushing a product as poor as Money Monster, an unshapely, stale hunk of filmed lard about how the stock market keeps sticking it to the little guy.
The recent, multi-Oscarnominated The Big Short addressed the same core theme with great humour, indignation and intelligence.
Money Monster so desperately wants to Occupy Wall Street, but it can’t even make it to the outskirts of Vacant Hollywood.
George Clooney stars as Lee Gates, the host of a gimmick-powered, TV stock-tip show, the type of which was all the rage on US cable about a decade ago (that must be the relevance the director mentioned).
Between the dance routines, jokes, funny clips and sound-effects, what Lee has to say about a corporation can supposedly move its share price up or down in milliseconds flat.
The movie doesn’t waste much time on proving the magnitude of Lee’s market-shifting Midas touch. He just, umm, has it, you know?
This character is actually such a smug know-nothin’ that when a gunwielding man ambushes a broadcast and holds Lee hostage in front of the cameras, the viewer isn’t really sure who to side with. The intruder goes by the name of Kyle (Jack O’Connell), a bit of a dunce who blew his life savings on one of Lee’s hot tips. Now Kyle wants to blow up Lee, having strapped the terrified TV host inside a vest loaded with explosives.
Kyle swears a lot, and whines relentlessly about how major institutions just don’t care about minor investors like himself.
Lee sweats a lot, and listens intently to the advice of his trusted producer Patty (Julia Roberts) coming through via a hidden earpiece.
Amazingly, Foster’s dull and uninspired direction fails to ignite any tension from the key flashpoints in Money Monster’s narrative.
Tense stand-offs, treacherous double-crosses and shock aboutfaces are sitting there for the taking, and they just go on sitting there until the moment has passed.