–Money Monster is a slightly above average crime thriller with an interesting but mild twist of a story.
The film is directed by Jodie Foster and stars George Clooney as Lee Gates, a slightly extravagant television money analyst who is more about the ratings than some of the content he delivers. Imagine if you will, Howard Stern being a television financial analyst with his showmanship attached to it. Yea, there you go. But this mode of how Gates delivers information gets him in a bit of hot water with one viewer (played by Jack O’Connell) who takes something Gates says to heart, invests his entire savings in a stock, only to lose it all on the venture.
The man shows up during a live telecast and takes Gates and his production crew hostage with a gun and a vest bomb strapped to Gates. After that Gates and his producer, Patty (played by Julia Roberts) works at figuring out how to diffuse the situation and this highly irritated fan.
This is the oddest character that I’ve seen Clooney play. His characters are usually more serious and in control of their realm, but this one, though smart within his realm of finances, exudes less of a dominating mindset and more of a hopeful personality when he’s not on camera in his finance show. He’s more a product of his extravagant production values than the power of his knowledge. Throughout the film, he maintains this flimsy character positioning, where he knows what he’s talking about, but he just does not feel like he believes himself. That alone is pretty impressive as far as roles go.
Roberts plays his no-nonsense producer, which falls right within her skill set as an actor. She is the backbone of the secondary story.
Between Gates and Patty, they actually figure out how or why their viewer lost his money and the film suddenly becomes something more of a financial forensic investigation than an attempt to diffuse the man… though in the end, investigating the reason why he lost money IS the attempt to diffuse him.
Along the way, Gates becomes sympathetic to his captor to the point of his taking his side and playing the abductee who is in the way of any cop with a sniper rifle. Or Stockholm syndrome. Your call.
The film itself was pretty middle of the road with the police actions, the kidnapping, and what not. What was surprising about that was the talent involved, between Clooney, Roberts and the directorial direction of Jody Foster. Foster tends to create great stories, but this one was just meh. Did Foster have the flue or something during the development and production of Money Monster?
The story behind the main film, the ambiance of the extra characters in the story was what was telling for me.
While Gates is being taken hostage, we watch his viewership taking in the scene on TV. In bars, pool halls, and game rooms. In one particular scene, we watch some Foosball players stop playing to watch the riveting television situation unfold. You almost get the idea that some of them just feel like it’s part of Gates’ shtick while others seem like they’re truly mesmerized, but no one seems really horrified at what they’re seeing on TV.
But as the story comes to a close, the moment the hostage situation is “resolved,” they go right back to playing Foosball and their other routines, as if it never happened. Or mattered beyond the moment of the TV scene.
In that, I see Foster’s touch and insight. The rest, well, WHAT HAPPENED???
On my popcorn scale, I’d easily give this a 6 out of 10, but the subtle closing moments boosted it in my mind to nearly a 7 when I saw the underlying theme behind the story. But I can’t stand partial review scores, so popcorn 6 out of 10, it is.
On IMDb it got a 6.5/10, while Rotten Tomatoes hist a 57% approval rating.