Money Monster

Lee Gates, played by George Clooney, hosts a financial advice show called Money Monster on a basic cable network.  It’s the type of show that has dancing girls, cheap costumes and special effects to dress up his stock picks.  The whole thing has a cheap talk radio feel to it, which makes it very popular.  Lee, however, is not the easiest person to get along with as his longsuffering director Patty Fenn, played by Julia Roberts, can attest.  For one thing, like many financial show hosts, he tends to idolize CEO’s, pumping them up in almost sexual terms.  His latest hero is Walt Camby, played by Dominic West, whose company has been on a winning streak for several years.  The day before the plot takes place, however, the company’s stock crashes, losing eight billion dollars for investors in just a few hours.  Many people lost their life savings.  One of them, Kyle Budwell, played by Jack O’Connell, comes to Gates’ studio to demand some answers.  He brings a gun and a couple of bombs with him.

Those answers turn out to be more complicated than anyone thought.

Money Monster is a minor entry into the growing corporate noir genre.  Director Jodie Foster and the four screenwriters have kept the running time to 98 minutes.  The pace never flags and there is plenty of suspense as you would expect in a story with a compressed timeline.  The problem is that there is almost no characterization.  Even this cast can’t bring these characters to life; there just isn’t enough in the script to work with.  The whole thing seems like Lee Gates’ soul, about an inch deep.  There are attempts at satire but they fall short.  Also the intricacies of the conspiracy are hard to follow and it’s not like The Big Short where the business concepts are complicated and you have to pay attention.  This movie simply doesn’t make any sense.

Jodie Foster is an experienced and talented director so Money Monster is watchable but not essential viewing.

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