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Money Never Sleeps … but then, Neither Does Rust

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps reminds us of greed’s siren call, but it’s equally prescient about fading directors who refuse to let their past works live on in our memories.

by
Christian Toto

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September 25, 2010 - 12:00 am
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As the above clip from Reason.tv highlights, anyone expecting director Oliver Stone to pass up the chance to make millions while smacking capitalism around in a Wall Street sequel is an eternal optimist — or has never rented a single Stone film.

The big surprise lurking in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is that the film captures Stone at his  collar-grabbing best — for a while.

It’s been ages since Stone made a film of consequence, alternating between weak propaganda fare (South of the Border) to sophomoric political profiles (W.). And the sappy World Trade Center, Stone’s dignified tribute  to emergency workers in the 9/11 fallout (the root cause of which was never depicted on screen), garnered more praise than it deserved.

But in Money Never Sleeps, his delayed sequel to his 1987 smash, he makes it easy to forget about his recent missteps. It’s vintage Stone, chock full of meaty performances, slick dialogue, and story arcs one can’t help but follow.

The hard-left director doesn’t bludgeon the audience with polemics — he leaves that to the interviews promoting his
product.

The film is partly a reboot of his own ‘80s feature. This time, Shia LaBeouf plays the handsome, headstrong trader named Jake, standing in for Charlie Sheen. He works under a kindly mentor (Frank Langella) but has his sights on riding an alternate energy company to fame and fortune.

Ah, movie magic.

Jake is simultaneously watching the company go through a critical research step and trying to reconnect his girlfriend (Carey Mulligan) with her estranged father. And her pappy is none other than Gordon “Greed … is good” Gekko (Michael Douglas reprising his Oscar winning role) himself. But ol’ Gordon isn’t the man he used to be. Prison showed him the error of his ways, and now he simply wants to invest in a nurturing relationship with his daughter.

Jake’s also busy with a Gekko-style kingpin (Josh Brolin) who could make Jake rich if he can hold his nose long enough and bury his better instincts.

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