Wednesday, May 18, 2016

[Review] Money Monster

After the unusually well-received Mel Gibson puppet dramedy The Beaver, Jodie Foster is at the directorial helm again with the awkward dud that is Money Monster.

George Clooney stars as the savvy and flashy TV host of a screwy stock market tip program, with Julia Roberts taking on the longtime producer role. Things get real when a disgruntled working-class New Yorker (Jack O'Connell) who had an investment backfire rolls up into the studio with a gun and an explosive vest, taking the place hostage--LIVE on air.

It certainly doesn't help that the trailer for Money Monster nearly showed the whole dang movie. So there's little room for surprise or any compelling turning points until the last minutes. A convoluted subplot bores with statistics while padding the duration. The film does a shoddy job at broadcasting a consistent tone. There are interjections of humor, which often fall completely flat (Seriously, who thought it'd be a good idea to put the erectile cream gag in this story?). And when the humor actually does hit, it unfortunately causes all the high stakes tension plummet. A hostage/standoff film in this vein needs the tension to be as high as possible to thrive. Let's just say this is no Dog Day Afternoon.

It's impressive how solid the performances are though, given the haphazard material and cringeworthy dialogue. George Clooney manages to convince before and after the huge disruption, and Julia Roberts is finely plausible even if she just stares at screens and delivers commands into an earpiece the whole time. But the main standout is Jack O'Connell, who has never been less than excellent in anything I've seen him in (Starred Up, '71, Unbroken). He's an emotional roller-coaster. A shaken bottle who bursts. We initially fear him. Then we pity him, we doubt him, we empathize with him.

As far as recent financial crisis dramas go, there are much better places to look--like last year's 99 Homes, or the Oscar-nominated The Big Short.

You probably won't hate it, but Money Monster is difficult to fully invest in.

( 5.5/10 )

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