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Non-Review Review: Money Monster

Money Monster works better as a heightened thriller than as righteous social commentary.

There is a lot to recommend Money Monster, beginning with the basic premise. Lee Gates is the fast-talking abrasive host of a hyper-masculine financial television show, who finds one Friday afternoon broadcast hijacked by a disgruntled investor who followed his advice. Tensions quickly escalate, as Gates finds himself trying to stay alive while also unravelling a thread of conspiracy and deceit that seems to tie the financial markets together. Gates and his assailant find themselves part of an unlikely team-up to blow this corruption wide open.

Money talks. It can also dance.

Money talks.
It can also dance.

Money Monster hinges on the combination of Jodie Foster’s direction and the cast’s charm. George Clooney remains one of the most charismatic performers on the planet, and there is a reason that Julia Roberts was one of the most successful lead actors of the nineties. While Clooney and Roberts add star power to the film, Foster benefits from casting Jack O’Connell as the irate-investor-turned-would-be-suicide-bomber. While performers like Dominic West and Giancarlo Esposito are horribly underused, they do add gravity to the film.

Jodie Foster is smart enough to keep the film moving. Even as a high-concept thriller, Money Monster is absurd. The characters frequently act irrationally. The plot never feels like an organic series of rippling consequences, with the author’s hand consistently visible. It is a movie that hinges on contrivance, with Foster working very hard to prevent the audience from catching their breath long enough to question the logic of what is unfolding on-screen. In some respects then, it has more in common with the world of high finance than it would care to admit.

Taking stock.

Taking stock.

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