Starring George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O’ Connell, Dominic West, Caitriona Balfe
This is the fourth film directed by two time Oscar winning actress Jodie Foster (“The Beaver”), although she has directed TV episodes of “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black”. It is however her first mainstream film. No it’s not a spinoff or sister movie to Spike Lee’s “Inside Man”, which starred Foster, although you can certainly draw some comparisons. It’s a mediocre thriller with a handful of decent scenes, mostly involving Clooney playing one of his better pompous roles and Roberts cursing, making that vein pop on her forehead. The biggest problem with “Money Monster: is that it can only end one way. The suspense is destroyed by an average movie goers understanding that as the plot advances there is only one single plausible conclusion and this film has no objectives but to hit that bright red bullseye.
What began as just another Friday taping of New York financial guru Lee Gates (Clooney) show Money Monster, turned newsworthy very quickly. Gates had talked up a new stock for weeks until it plummeted. The CEO Walt Camby (West) claimed it was a glitch in the system, but over $800 million dollars of stock-holder’s money vanished. Program director Patty Fenn (Roberts) notices a delivery man in view of the camera during their live shot. At first she thinks it’s another prank or surprise, typical to the show, but Kyle Budwelll pulls out a gun and bomb. A terror and hostage situation escalates quickly on live television. Kyle demands they stay live, which quickly captivates every news agency in the world. Gates is forced to get to the bottom of the “glitch” because his life depends on it.
It’s a film that is more obviously pieced together in the editing room than cultivated on set.
“Money Monster” wastes to time getting to the action while the script develops the characters along the way. The first half of the film is the better part, because the suspense gets stretched and lost, giving the audience too much time to think about certain elements that don’t add up. At first it seems like “Money Monster” might be a third child to recent financial corruption movies “The Big Short” or “99 Homes”. However, the film never offers up anything interesting about the market we don’t already know. Oscar winners Clooney and Roberts are the only real sellable points here. Both are good confined to their particular situations and despite how it looks, the actors only appear on screen together twice. This is the second film in a row where Roberts has filmed the majority of her scenes on green screen, separate from the rest of the film.
For the average viewer just wanting a by the numbers thriller, “Money Monster” might be too much to follow as it turns from a hostage thriller to a paper trail. The majority of the film takes place in the television studio using multiple monitors, graphics and “live” looking shots edited together. It’s a film that is more obviously pieced together in the editing room than cultivated on set. In all of her other films, Foster presents something that seems personal, characters than learn or grow in distinctive ways. This film makes a point in the end to say, come Monday morning, everything will be the same. Everyone involved with this movie is more talented individually than the sum of their combined work on this project.
A calculable thriller without much kick.