“Wall Street” came out in 1987 and was supposed to be a cautionary tale about the destructive power of greed. It starred Michael Douglas in the iconic role of Gordon Gekko as a powerful and ruthless corporate raider. He took a young stock broker under his wing and in the end went to jail for insider trading.
In the years following the release of “Wall Street” it had an unexpected effect: The Gekko character was seen as an idol to people who worked on Wall Street. As “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” opens, Gekko is exiting jail and writes a best selling book about his experiences. Seems he is the only one who has grown and learned from his experiences.
We then meet Jake Moore (Shia Lebeouf), a bright young broker whose true passion seems to be investing in alternative energy research. He is also engaged to Gekko’s estranged daughter Winnie (Carey Mulligan). When he learns that Gekko giving a lecture he attends and introduces himself. This gets the wheels of fate moving in some unforeseen directions.
When Jakes firm is brought to its knees by Bretton James (Josh Brolin), and some nasty rumours he has started, his mentor commits suicide and Jake vows to get revenge. He enlists Gekko for help, which is a blessing and a curse since we can never tell what cards he is holding. Does he want to reconcile with his daughter, does he want to help out a young broker that reminds him a little of himself, or is he after another angle?
Oliver Stone, the director, obviously felt it was time for this project considering the financial crisis that greedy Wall Street pirates have caused. He uses the market crash as a backdrop to the melodrama up front. There is a lot of anger and emotion that will be caused during closed door meetings with the heads of banks, government and Wall Street firms as they discuss bail outs and other schemes to keep themselves rich at the expense of everyone else.
But the core story here is about Jake as he tries to push a reconciliation between Gekko and his daughter Winnie. She blames her father for her brothers death, among other family problems that were caused by his legal troubles.
“Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” is a fascinating film indeed, I just wish it had been a little bit more focused on finance and less focused on personal dramas. I also thought the ending seemed a little too tidy for my taste. But it is a worthy follow up to a great film.