Lee Gates (George Clooney) is an outlandish financial pundit for FNN. Much like his real life counterpart CNBC’s Jim Cramer, Gates give ‘can’t miss’ stock tips daily on his show Money Monster. However, the stock market is a gamble. Winners are celebrated regularly as geniuses, while losers plunge into bankruptcy. One of Gates’ pick, that was such a sure winner “you could bet your savings” was Ibis Clear Capital. The advice was sound, the logic was clear but the tip failed miserably. Reported as a “computer glitch” by Ibis, their new rapid trading algorithm proved fallible and with it Ibis’ stocks nearly flatline; losing somewhere in the vicinity of $800 million. While it’s c’est la vie for Gates, one of the bigger losers of the day, a disgruntled investor named Kyle (Jack O’Connell) sneaks on set and holds the Crew of Money Monster hostage.
Searching for ‘answers’, Kyle calls shenanigans on the ‘glitch’ and forces Gates into a vest rigged with explosives. While Ibis Clear Capital tries to maneuver through this PR nightmare, unfolding live around the globe; the man at the center of it all is suspiciously AWOL. Ibis’ CEO Walt Camby (Dominic Cooper). The search is on to find the elusive Camby while at the FNN studios, Gates and his long time producer Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts) continue to negotiate with the desperate Kyle.
What could be viewed as a cautionary tale of greed and the risky business of investing, Money Monster is not another Big Short. It doesn’t try to spark a revolution or persuade you to reconsider your investments; it’s a fairly straightforward hostage thriller, wrapped in a global conspiracy. Early on the film peeks in on a home in Iceland and South Korea to give a sense of the global scale of the event. Though millions are watching around the world, the film spends most of its time with our three main characters in a secluded television studio. It’s in this intimacy where Money Monster shines.
Unintentionally funny yet dripping with realism, Money Monster turns out to be more of a case of Stockholm Syndrome at times, than a taught drama. Still director Jodie Foster manages to capture both Clooney and Roberts at their best. Clooney is smug and full of bombast as a tv talking head, while the stoic Roberts remains effectively calm as the veteran show director. Speaking directly to Gates through his IFB (earpiece) Roberts reminds Clooney constantly that he is on the air and she has a show to run, despite the ongoing terrorist attack. (Lest we forget that he is wearing an explosive vest) Foster’s first motion picture direction since the underrated 2011 film ‘The Beaver’; Foster excels at high drama while moving the story at a brisk pace.
Rated: R @ 98 mins