Released in 2016 and directed by Jodie Foster, Money Monster tells the story of how an unbearable host of a financial TV show and his crew are taken hostage by an angry young man who’s investment went south after following their advice.
George Clooney plays said obnoxious host Lee Gates, and is supported by Julia Roberts in the role of director Patty. As the film opens, we see a normal day in their life, full of witty exchanges and well executed, though at times cliche, smarm and swagger from Clooney as the star of the show.
There’s no slow warm up here, which is kinda nice – we all know what’s going to happen, so the fact they pretty much get straight into the armed takeover of the show is good. Jack O’Connell is impressive and convincing as a man on the edge who is willing to go to any lengths to be heard, and Clooney is solid too, but Julia Roberts in the control room is the star of the show in terms of performance for us. Seeing her manage her crew, direct the camera and handle what’s happening with such coolness really is the strength of the film – the whole story is about people behind the scenes of the financial industry, pulling strings without us realising, and her aspect of the film relays that perfectly.
A film like this relies on building palpable tension, having the audience on the edge of their seat as they watch the push and pull between hostages and the hostage-taker. Money Monster achieves moments of this – there’s some build up and twists that you don’t see coming – but overall misses the mark a little in terms of impact. Despite the explosives in the room, there just doesn’t feel like there’s enough at stake, and enough room for the actors to really dig deep.
As the story moves along and inevitably the claustrophobia of the location changes, the tension is lost even more, though most films of this kind do fall victim to this. There’s a big business side story which is vital to the plot but delivered in quite a flat way, and the conspiracy they uncover doesn’t exactly leave the viewer surprised.
There is true sadness at the climax of the film, though, and the underlying idea of those who have the least being left with nothing by those who have the most is one that is hard hitting in any form. It feels injust, unfair and that is delivered well, although at times doesn’t seem to be taken quite as seriously (or given with quite as much impact) as the far better The Big Short.
A pretty good watch, but we reckon there’s better ones out there. 2 stars from us.
Here’s the trailer, to wet your whistle.