Money Monster is a thriller that takes on current issues and offers some surprising twists, which only adds to its interest and appeal.
The film confronts us with our own complicity in the way CEOs run their companies.
The film opens with Lee Gates (George Clooney), who hosts a cable show, Money Monster. He’s full of himself and resists taking direction from his longtime director, Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts), who cues him when to say what. During the show, a deliveryman, Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell), sneaks onto the set with a gun, and takes Lee hostage. Angry, Kyle says he invested $60,000—his entire life savings—in stock from a company Lee had endorsed a month earlier on the show.
Despite the extreme measures he’s taking, Kyle’s anger reflects the ire of many people who are struggling to get by. The company he invested his money in, IBIS Clear Capital, is run by CEO Walt Camby (Dominic West). Lee planned to interview him on his show to ask why the company’s stock had plummeted the day before, costing investors $800 million. Instead, IBIS chief communications officer Diane Lester (Caitriona Balfe) explains via a video feed that the stock fell because of a glitch in a trading algorithm.
Kyle wants answers, and unless he gets them, he says, he will blow up Lee before killing himself. The police are notified, and they try to figure out a way to diffuse the bomb.
The plot gets even more complicated, and I don’t want to give too much away. The film maintains its suspense while including some unexpected twists. Some of these twists are psychological, as, for example, Lee goes from an overconfident TV figure to a frightened hostage. And Kyle faces his own changes as he’s confronted by his pregnant girlfriend.
Racing against time, Lee and Patty use their resources to try to find out where Camby is and what’s behind the stock’s plummet. Diane also tries to find Camby and gains some information that challenges her commitment to the company.
Money Monster sets up some unrealistic situations and at times is heavy-handed about the corruption involved in our financial markets. But it also throws in some curveballs that alter our perception. Just as we’re ready to blame one evil man for not only Kyle’s problem but also our own, the film confronts us with our own complicity in the way CEOs run their companies. We as stockholders tend to overlook the malfeasance of these CEOs when our stocks are making a profit, and we get upset when we learn about their misdeeds, especially when those lead to our losing money.
And the ending, which depicts the watching public’s fickleness, is superb. Jodie Foster’s direction and the acting throughout is excellent.
Money Monster, rated R for language and some violence, is entertaining and includes some thought-provoking elements. But it’s not going to change the behavior of many people.
All reviews express the opinions of the reviewer, not necessarily the views of Third Way.