The despicable practices and repercussions of the global banking system’s actions have been well documented in recent times, be that through documentary efforts from the likes of Russell Brand and Michael Moore, or through clever feature films such as this year’s superb, The Big Short, and 2015’s wonderful, yet under-rated, 99 Homes.
So to 2016, and director Jodie Foster’s own take on things, marrying banking malpractice with more general social commentary, in Money Monster.
George Clooney plays larger-than-life personality, Lee Gates, the presenter-come Game Show host of ‘Money Monster,’ a TV programme that whips its viewers into a financial frenzy by analysing the market and encouraging them to make ‘sure thing’ investments.
One such ‘sure thing’ however backfires spectacularly thanks to what is explained away by the financial institution involved as a computer glitch; costing a large number of small time investors an awful lot of money that they can ill afford to be without.
One such prospector, blue-collar worker Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell), has lost a small fortune having taken Lee Gates’s advice on this particular ‘certainty’ and has been left with nothing. Understandably, in full knee-jerk mode, Kyle wants someone to be held accountable.
Somehow managing to evade security, heslips into the TV studios and manages to sabotage the filming of the latest edition of the show, holding Gates at gunpoint, and forcing him to wear a vest jam-packed with explosives.
Finger poised upon the detonation button, Kyle Budwell is determined to have his demands met.
Money Monster is very much a film of the times. With more and more of the general public increasingly determined that the money men should be held accountable for their misdemeanours and acts of greed, it’s a film that should resonate with plenty, particularly considering its heavy release promotion and a heavyweight cast and directorial team.
Director Jodie Foster has cast well. Clooney adds the necessary blend of charm and sleaze, whilst Julia Roberts is his long-suffering producer, Patty Fenn, and it’s a good thing too as Money Monster, relevant and tense in places though it may well be, would be in serious danger of slipping into TV movie or U.S TV drama territory without their collective, assured presence.
Jack O’Connell makes a good fist of what is essentially a pretty limited part and a special mention for his girlfriend Molly (Emily Meade) and her hilariously unsupportive, foul-mouthed rant at her boyfriend who she has clearly ‘had it’ with – just to pile on the misery for the poor fella.
As well put together and as perfectly watchable as Money Monster is, it lacks originality and comes across as nothing more than a fairly routine Hollywood run-out.
I suppose the main positive that one can take away from Money Monster is that it’s another piece with its heart in the right place that at least aims to have a dig at, and raise awareness of the continued negligent practices of the banking sector, and the more of these that are thrown out there into the mainstream, the better.