Movie Review: 'Money Monster'

04 June 2016 - 02:00 By Robbie Collin

Movie is as slick and fast-paced as the shallow financial journalism it plays against, writes Robbie CollinIf The Big Short left you no wiser about the murky complexities of the financial crisis, Money Monster is for you. The new film, directed by Jodie Foster, is a raucous hostage thriller that eschews explanation for wish-fulfilment: it allows a beaten-down schmuck to literally hold a gun to the head of a banker who wiped out his savings at a stroke.Foster's film is a critique of the shallowness of modern financial journalism and the slipperiness of the traders it fails to hold to account that is itself proudly shallow and slippery - less a recession-era Network than Speed in a TV studio.story_article_left1George Clooney stars as Lee Gates, the smarm-dunked host of a daily financial newscast whose gangsta-of-the-Nasdaq, get-rich-quick schtick panders to his audience's crassest instincts. So when a disgruntled viewer, Kyle Budwell (Jack O'Connell), invades the studio with a handgun and a bomb vest, demanding answers about a $60000 (R940000) venture that vanished overnight, it makes a grim kind of sense that the show's director Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts) orders the cameras to keep rolling.Except Patty isn't spurred on by scandal. She's recently handed in her notice for a more respectable, less glamourous job elsewhere, but quickly twigs that a gun to the head might be exactly what TV news needs. With her host's life in the balance, a live investigation into what actually happened to poor Kyle's money can begin.It's immediately clear that Kyle is a sap and a hothead, but also a patsy. As recommended by Lee, the investment should have been sound, and it's the system itself, rigged in favour of the one percent, that's ultimately to blame.Enter screen right, from the steps of a Learjet, Dominic West's iron-grinned hedge fund manager, who's been off-grid since his company lost the $800-million stake in South African steel which contained Kyle's savings, and has left his PR manager Diane Lester (Caitriona Balfe) to offer corporate platitudes in his absenceOver a hailstorm of statistics and bar charts, the film begins with a warning from Lee to his viewers that's also presumably also intended as a shot across our bow. "Are you listening?" he barks. "Are you paying attention out there? Because it's about to get complicated." Except it really isn't: Money Monster is very straightforward, shaking every last twist out of its sleeves in the opening few scenes.Instead, the bulk of the film is taken up with watching the straightforward plot hurtle towards its high-stakes conclusion. Narrative dead ends are worked around with the help of two hackers in Iceland: transparently a cheap patch-up, albeit carried off with the same brazen panache as the rest of the project.There's lots of glossy fun to be had. Clooney attacks the role of a journalist who rediscovers his conscience in real time with sticky-fingered glee, while Roberts is beguilingly composed as his personal Jiminy Cricket, coolly directing his every move via an earpiece, by turns his conscience, superego and puppeteer.Money Monster is on circuit.Rating: 3/5- © The Daily Telegraph, London..

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