Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps

Yeah I know that this isn't remotely food related, but after having watched a sneak preview of Wall Street 2 earlier tonight, I can't help but write about it!  Don't worry - no spoilers (not really anyway).

It's so secret that everyone had to turn in their mobile phones at the door (which were then individually sealed in brown paper bags) - did you know that handicam piracy in Australia is actually leading the world, because it is often the first country in which a new movie is screened?

I'd been looking forward to this movie for a long time.  The original Wall Street was one of my favourites, although not for the reason most of my fellow Gen Xers liked it.  For me, it was the reminder of the consequences of greed, not that I always heeded it, admittedly. My favourite quote from the movie was Bud Fox asking Gordon Gekko: "how many yachts can you water-ski behind? How much is enough?"

It's ironic that the movie which Oliver Stone made to highlight the consequences and pointlessness of greed in fact spawned a generation of stockbrokers and investment bankers who eagerly spouted Gekko's claim that "greed, for lack of a better word ... is good", conveniently ignoring the fact that he went to the Big House for 8 years as a result.  In the new movie, Gordon gets out of jail, becomes a famous financial markets author, and predicts the GFC.  Is he reformed?  Does a leopard changes its spots?

Perhaps that's why he chose to focus more on the personal relationships in Wall Street 2 rather than the corporate machinations, and deliver up a classic Hollywoodistic happy ending instead of the grim finish of the first instalment.  Therein however, lies the weakness - the movie glosses over the manouevering and the tangible effects of money that made the first movie so compelling.  The new movie fails to give one a good sense of the financial pain brought on by the GFC, as a result of reckless greed.  Jake owes half a million bucks on a margin loan when a big punt goes south, but you would have been forgiven for wondering if that actually happened, since he flits through the rest of the movie in a blissful state.

There's also a great deal of attention to the details.  It's interesting though that early in the movie, Gekko is smoking a Davidoff cigar made in the Dominican Republic, but later on when he's reaping it in, he lights up a Cohiba (although the band seems to be upside down - a Maduro perhaps, or a Behike?)

And like the original, this movie has a few great quotes.  One example is Jacob asking: "What's your number? ... The amount of money you need to walk away from it all and live happily ever after. Everyone has a number, and it's an exact one."

There's also a great cameo appearance, but I won't spoil it for you.  The only hint I will give is that it's a character from the original film, but you'd be wondering whether it's art mimicking reality mimicking art mimicking reality ...

A sequel to a great film always has a hard time meeting expectations.  If you liked the original, this film is a must watch, but I would suggest that you leave your expectations at the door and enjoy this pleasant candy-coated ride down memory lane.

As for me, I will be organising my Wall Street (the original) party shortly.

Additional note: I saw on Bloomberg this morning (22 Sep) that Warren Buffett attended the US red carpet premiere of Wall Street 2.  Go figure.

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