Jodie Foster directing? Check. George Clooney and Julia Roberts in the starring roles? Check. This must be an amazing movie, right?
George Clooney stars as Lee Gates, an over-the-top, charismatic television personality hosting a show on the popular financial network. This show has made him the whiz kid of Wall Street. We see Clooney in a different light, as Gates dances on his show with backup dancers—all a part of his lively character. It appears Gates has done fairly well for himself and others, based on the information he shares on the show.
Roberts stars as Patty Fenn, Gates’ crackerjack producer—she literally plays the voice in his ear during the movie. As Clooney’s character does his show, Roberts is actually the one carrying him through by feeding the information into his earpiece. Her character is a no-nonsense kind of gal; she knows what needs to be done
But it’s Jack O’Connell as Kyle Budwell who steals the movie, a relatively unknown actor compared to the two big stars. (Watch out for this guy in other movies. He is unreal.) Budwell makes his way onto the set disguised as delivery worker. While the show is live, a hostage crisis erupts on the sound stage. Budwell, of course, is behind this, as he takes Gates and the rest of the crew hostage.
We learn this hostage-taking involves a bad stock tip involving a corrupt CEO (does this ring true or what these days?): Budwell wants answers. They offer to give back his money, but he just wants answers about a corrupt system. This is where the storyline gets really interesting. Budwell suddenly becomes a guy we can relate to, as we are shown glimpses of people all over New York City glued to the television, be it in a bar, office, or at home. These same people begin relating to Budwell, which ends up being very easy to do.
Gates attempts to start finding out answers about the sudden crash of this particular company. The more they all dig, the more they begin to find. They make contact with the company’s CEO, Walt Camby (played by Dominic West), who attempts to weasel his way out of the situation; at this point, though, Gates and Budwell begin to figure things out. And when they do, the unthinkable happens. A notable performance is provided by Caitriona Balfe as the Chief Communications Officer for Camby’s company. She gets fed to the wolves, but handles it all with grace.
Don’t get me wrong: Money Monster is good. However, even with the gold star names of Foster directing, along with Clooney and Roberts in the cast, it’s O’Connell who carries the movie. By the time the movie was over, I found myself relating to Budwell the most—and don’t be surprised if you, too, find yourself rooting for the hostage-taker. For about the first hour, the film was a little too slow, although the end does make it for it. Ultimately, Money Monster portrays a good vs. evil situation in which our hostage taker is not exactly the evil one. | Tracy Fort