WHITE COLLARS, DIRTY MONEY白領與黑錢

The second season of Billions portrays financial criminals as gangsters of the modern age. By PAUL KAY 《Billions》第二季將金融罪犯描寫成摩登時代的黑幫分子。撰文: Paul Kay

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SINCE THE EARLIEST DAYS of Hollywood, audiences have been fascinated by criminals – from 1903’s

The Great Train Robbery all the way to Goodfellas and Breaking Bad. No matter how law-abiding one might be in real life, there is something thrilling about watching characters that not only take what they want whenever they want it, but also do it with swagger and style.

Since 2008, there has been a notable shift in the types of villains being portrayed, with Mafiosos and bank robbers increasingly upstaged by white-collar criminals who plunder huge sums of money without cocking a gun. The likes of The Big Short and Margin Call were among the films that laid bare the nefarious practices that precipitated the global financial meltdown, while even that great documenter of ‘made men’ Martin Scorsese swapped gangsters for trading floor crooks in The Wolf of Wall Street.

Plugging into this undercurrent of greed and glamour is Billions, a contemporary take on the cops-and-robbers trope that sees US attorney Charles ‘Chuck’ Rhoades Jr (Paul Giamatti) attempting to bring corrupt Wall Street billionaire Bobby ‘Axe’ Axelrod (Damian Lewis) to justice. Loosely based on actual events and co-created by financial journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin, Billions reinforces the notion that Wall Street cowboys are the gangsters of the modern age. The filthy lucre amassed by Axe’s dodgy dealings makes Tony Soprano’s swag look positively modest in comparison.

The second season, premiering onboard this month, rips another story from the headlines: the controversial lawsuit brought by Hulk Hogan – bankrolled by billionaire Peter Thiel – against tabloid website Gawker. More sensational and edgy than the first season, Billions remains a mesmerising watch.

當荷李活的電影業還在早期階段,觀眾就已經十分喜愛看關於罪犯的故事。從1903年的默片《火車大劫案》一直到《盜亦有道》與劇集《絕命毒師》,這個題材可說歷久不衰。即使觀眾在現實生活中奉公守法,但是見到電影和劇集中的角色不但可以任意為所欲為,而且明目張膽,甚至犯案手法別具個人風格時,總會覺得興奮刺激。

可是,自從 2008年以來,壞人的類型開始跟以往有明顯的分別:以往是黑幫分子與銀行搶劫犯的天下,現在風頭都被白領罪犯搶去了。白領罪犯有本事不必動刀動槍就可以掠奪巨額金錢,例如《沽注一擲》與《孖展風雲》等影片,就將促成全球金融風暴出現的不法勾當呈現觀眾眼前。就連向來擅長講述黑幫恩仇的 Martin Scorsese,也拍了一部《華爾街狼人》,講述一名金融騙子的故事。

甚至劇集現在亦向充滿貪婪與紙醉金迷的金融世界打主意,《Billions》可說是以現代角度來演繹昔日的警察捉大賊故事,講述美國聯邦檢察官Charles「Chuck」Rhoades Jr ( Paul Giamatti飾)致力將貪贓舞弊的華爾街億萬富翁 Bobby「」Axe Axelrod(Damian Lewis飾)繩之於法。金融記者Andrew Ross Sorkin是劇集的其中一位編劇,劇情改編自一些真實的事件,再次說明華爾街上的大鱷小鱷就是現代的黑幫。Axe以不良手法進行交易,謀取不義之財;《人在江湖》的Tony Soprano的行徑與他相比,可謂小巫見大巫。

《Billions》第二季本月在航機上首度放映,故事再次以聳動的新聞頭條為藍本,將億萬富豪 Peter Thiel 資助 Hulk Hogan與八卦娛樂網站 Gawker 打的爭議性官司搬上電視,劇情比第一季更緊張刺激,同樣引人入勝。

Power trip In Billions it’s prosecutor vs Wall Street billionaire, with big money and big egos at stake梟雄角力檢察官跟華爾街億萬富翁於《Billions》中鬥智鬥力,押上財富及自我

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