‘Wall Street’ sequel fails to pay up

Director Oliver Stone loves to comment on turning points of American history.

Vietnam, past presidents and professional football have spots in his portfolio.

“Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” is no different as it stabs at the bailouts. Young trader Jake Moore (Shia LaBeouf)
is ready to make big money in the green power business. His fiancé, Winnie (Carrey Mulligan), is a successful political advocate, and her estranged father Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) is being released from prison after serving an eight-year stint for a slew of corporate crimes, including insider trading.

When Jake’s company goes under at the hands of corporate pirate Bretton James (Josh Brolin), his mentor throws himself onto subway tracks.

Jake takes revenge on Bretton by collaborating with washed-up Gekko, whose true intentions are clear to the audience.

The original “Wall Street” was a decent film. It was a little over-acted and had a weak climax, but it was the 1980s and Stone had to find a way to sell a film without any real action.

The sequel, 23 years in the making, addresses some of the problems the original had but does not completely follow through.

Acting in the film is substantially better than its predecessor.

Douglas shines above the rest but that might be because Gekko is a semi-iconic, captivating character. Brolin kept up, but it was pretty obvious that LaBeouf did not need to work hard to be the same character he plays in every movie.

Mulligan did a great job too, but her character’s stubbornness and flaws were agitating. While imperfections can be enjoyable character qualities, in this case they were more detrimental than positive.

Star of the original “Wall Street,” Charlie Sheen, also reprises his role as Bud Fox, in a nearly worthless cameo, almost ruining one of the film’s better scenes.

Stone strings plot points together nicely for the most part, but sometimes the transitions and other editing techniques are a bit much, but they get the job done. I was captivated the entire 133 minutes.

Whether the plot is buyable or not is up to the individual viewer.

I didn’t question the spectacle too much, with the exception of a couple musings: “How could they be that gullible?” and “It was that easy?”

Sadly, there are some cringe-inducing moments in the film.

Stone crudely uses the bailouts as talking points in the film and the dialogue surrounding the banking crisis is stilted.

These moments could have been handled with much more precision.

If you have a surface-level interest in the stock market and economics, you might be  drawn in and ensnared like me.

See the original and enjoy “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” on its face value, but don’t expect to get a big return on your investment.

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