Movie Review : Money Monster (2016)
I knew going in that watching this movie would be a mistake. A Jodie Foster directed Wall-Street film about social justice and sticking it up to bankers looked like a terrible fucking idea on paper, so it could only go down from there. Money is a complicated matter in the United States (read "the entire world") and anyone who claims to have an explanation as to why 99% of the people are broke and the other percent swims pools of money better be right. And Money Monster isn't right. In fact, it's worse than wrong. It's what happens when rich and disconnected people think think they figured out this whole money scheme.
Money Monster is the story of Lee Gates (George Clooney), a cable television financial expert trying to weather the tailspin of Ibis Clear Capital, a company he raved about on air and told his viewership to invest in. When a duped investor (Jack O'Connell) barges in the studio and takes him hostage on air, Lee first tries to complies with his demand in order to survive. He soon finds out that Ibis is not telling the truth about the reason why they crashed and becomes sympathetic to his captor's cause. And.... *sigh* this unlikely team takes on itself to bring this fraudulent company down equipped with only a bomb, because... I don't know, because the underdog always wins in movies?
The very idea of Money Monster is rotten. A private company shooting a 27 million dollars movie about the everyman taking down a corrupt corporation and then charging the everyman money to see it in theaters is the definition of irony itself. There is nothing inherently wrong with the movie itself. It's slick, tense and kept afloat by superstar talent like Clooney and Julia Roberts, but the message it sends is beyond insulting normal people who need to trust institutions to invest hard-earned money for their old days. Because... *double sigh* our everyman Kyle is not even the protagonist of Money Monster.
The protagonist of Money Monster is Lee, the burnout financial expert with the silly cable television show. When the movie begins, he's confident, arrogant and uses his producer to test products he wants to invest in. Then, our generic everyman character comes in with his homicidal intent and his reasonable motivations, which brings Lee back on the right side of the struggle. See where my problem lies here? The selling point of such a movie is to give us suckers hope that we can hold institutions accountable for our money (which they need in order to function), but the character we're supposed to identity to is really just an accessory to the narrative.
This is bullshit of the highest level.
Now that Money Monster is free of charge on Netflix, it's worth a hate watch. Because it was made with the best, most humanistic possible intentions, by the most disconnected wealthy Hollywood people...*ahem* Jodie Foster *ahem*. It's a fascinating case where technical and narrative competence meet extreme tone deafness. There's a reason why it barely registered in box office two years ago and that it disappeared from collective consciousness until it reemerged on Netflix last month. But it's important to remember that it's not because you claim to be on the left that you necessarily understand how problems such as irresponsible banking affect people. So, Money Monster is terrible, but it's weirdly important?