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Thursday, Sept. 23, 2010 06:58 pm

Wall Street 2: Take it to the bank

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The surprising thing about Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps isn’t that Michael Douglas’ role is really a supporting one, but that Shia La Beouf in the lead carries the film. The young actor finally sheds the burden of his adolescent persona here as Jake Moore, a young wannabe Wall Street mover and shaker who, like so many before him, is tempted by the prospect of reaping millions without doing any sort of legitimate work, but simply by having the nerve to take a financial risk. Investing millions or going after powerbroker Bretton James’ (Josh Brolin) investment firm is nothing to him, nor is befriending former felon Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) who’s just been released from prison. Of course, that’s the problem with Moore and his ilk – restraint is not in their makeup.

Exciting and frightening, Oliver Stone’s sequel to his 1987 Oscar-winning classic is a movie for our times, a film brimming with excess (hey, it’s a Stone production) that revels in scaring the audience with its look at our country’s precarious financial situation as well as tossing one melodramatic moment after another at us. Though its quick talk of sub-prime lending and buying on margin may leave some scratching their heads, Stone knows how to keep us hooked by putting his characters and us through the pressure cooker.

The plot, involving a bit of a conspiracy theory behind the 2008 financial meltdown, also reintroduces Gekko to a new generation, this time as a seer whose financial thinking was ahead of its time – and more lenient laws – in the 1980s. Now his prescient view of where we’re headed as a country needs to be heeded as he predicts ruin. But don’t let the benevolent act fool you, Gekko knows how to fend for himself and his return to the top of the financial heap is one of the film’s guilty pleasures, as is Douglas’ performance. You can take his and Stone’s efforts to the bank – their film is a sure bet in these uncertain cinematic times.

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org.

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