Money Monster (2016) has George Clooney and Julia Roberts as its lead stars and Jodie Foster as its director, but does it really live up to the big names behind it and in front of it? Read this review to find out. Spoilers ahead.
Plot and Analysis: Lee Gates (Clooney) is a television guru and he hosts his own show Money Monster with his faithful director Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts). Everything goes haywire when a viewer who has lost all of his money from a previous tip from Gates, storms on to the set, and keeps Gates and the crew hostage on gunpoint.
The Good and The Bad: By reading the plot, you are already into the first act of the movie. Money Monster is undoubtedly brilliantly directed. From start to finish we don't get only close-up and long shots but a variety of camera angles and shots. And this do a lot to keep the thrill moving along, though it's short on the suspense element.
What MM got right was undoubtedly the casting. Clooney has both the looks and the old boyish charm which made me believe he could play this role in his sleep. Roberts was also good to watch but in such a limited capacity that the flick could've done without her second-top billing. The best addition to the ensemble was Jack O'Connell as the interrogator Kyle Budwell.
I'm not sure whether his acting was top-notch or the character itself was written with finesse. You might like or dislike MM but O'Connell's performance was the true highlight of this venture. And it's safe to say that he shared a greater on-screen chemistry with Clooney's individual rather than at escapist moment with Roberts' character.
And this is what MM ultimately fails at: It shows an imbalance between glamorous display and emotional turmoil. Sure, it's true that if an event had actually happened in America, it would've been on major talk shows in the States, but the script by Fiore and Kouf couldn't properly showcase that.
Furthermore, the narrative lacks depth. Budwell is a character we can easily relate to, and so is Clooney's Lee Gates but ultimately there's nothing behind the overall storyline to really convince us about a new problem.
Take shows like Person of Interest and Mr. Robot, they are continuously showing us that the downfall of capitalism is relative to the glamour and the overall lies told by businessmen. And this point is made abundantly clear by the stunning third act. But instead of making a grand finale of an ending, it's more anti-climatic with Gates and Fenn just watching TV and seeing that the stock exchange system has remained intact.
The redeeming quality of MM lies with its occasional comic relief, especially the funny interactions between Gates and Budwell and those they have with the out-of-the-sets world. Not only are these moments laughable but they show us insights into those character's mindsets.
The Suggestion: In my opinion, if MM had only taken place in the studio, and ended the conflict somehow there, then MM would've had a proper message to the viewers. By mixing too many elements the recipe for MM's success relied on too many factors, and this led to some events in the movie being played out longer just to make for a proper feature-film length.
The Verdict: Money Monster is unique in its portrayal of how the rich vs. poor is inhabited behind Gates (Clooney) and Budwell (O' Connell), but lacks in properly knowing when to hit the notes that make a first-rate financial thriller. If this exhibition didn't seem prolonged, it could've been one of the finest in its genre, but alas this was not the case.
Rating: 2 out of 4.