| The dynamic duo of Michael Douglas and Oliver Stone reunite after 23 years in this sequel to “Wall Street,” the popular 1987 movie.
Douglas won an Oscar for his portrayal of corporate raider Gordon Gekko, now regarded as a cult hero. His famous mantra “greed is good” made him the equivalent of a rock star in the financial realm.
The subtitle of this movie comes from a line spoken by Gekko in the original film. This highly anticipated sequel opens in 2001 with Gekko getting his belongings returned upon his release from prison after serving an eight-year sentence for insider trading and securities fraud. Nobody is there to greet him. He sports a mane of silver gray hair. He realizes the world has changed.
The movie fast forwards from the prologue to 2008. We are introduced to Jake Moore (Shia LaBeouf from “Eagle Eye” and “Transformers”), a young, idealistic investment banker. He is living with red-headed Winnie Gekko (Carey Mulligan from “An Education”), the estranged daughter of Gordon.
Jake is given a sizable bonus by his mentor Lou Zabel (Frank Langella from “Frost/Nixon”) and uses some of it to buy Winnie an engagement ring. Jake goes with a buddy up to Fordham University to hear Gordon speak about his new book “Is Greed Good?” Jake tells Gordon he is going to marry his daughter.
Meanwhile, Lou has committed suicide after false rumors have nearly bankrupted the investment firm. Gordon and Jake make a bargain to uncover the snake in the grass that ruined Lou’s company. Jake will get his revenge and Gordon will have a chance to reconcile with his daughter.
The movie mirrors historical events that led to the financial crisis and the ultimate government bailout of the banking industry. Warren Buffet called this global meltdown “an economic Pearl Harbor.”
The proof is in the pudding that Stone deserves the label of master filmmaker. He adds directorial flourishes with split screens, graphics and breathtaking views of New York City. Allan Loeb (“Things We Lost in the Fire” and “21”), a licensed stock broker, and Stephen Schiff (“True Crime”) have written a smart and sophisticated screenplay.
The acting is first-rate. Douglas is a commanding presence and proves that a leopard doesn’t change its spots. His best line in the movie – “If you stop telling lies about me, I will stop telling the truth about you” – actually comes from American politician Adlai E. Stevenson referring to Democrats and Republicans.
LaBeouf shows great maturity in a role that requires balancing inexperience with a cunning shrewdness. Mulligan sheds real tears and is the emotional center of the film.
Strong supporting performances are turned in by Josh Brolin (“Milk” and “W.”), Susan Sarandon and Eli Wallach.
The wardrobe department has adorned the actors with sharp tailored outfits that will leave fashionistas drooling. An exceptional soundtrack is additional icing on the cake.
The movie speaks to the human condition. Its major point is that time rather than money is the most valuable asset in life. This well-oiled and flawlessly executed cinematic event lives up to all lofty expectations. It deserves one of the 10 slots as best picture of the year. For what it’s worth, my advice is to make an investment of your time and money to see this entertaining movie.
Keith Cohen "The Movie Guy"