Despite dabbling with the directors chair in the past, Jodie Foster’s new isolated thriller Money Monster is probably her first full swing at getting behind the camera with some backing. To make sure we all stand up and listen, she has presented us with a film that definitely makes a lot of noise, but unfortunately she sprints ahead in this marathon race. At the end of the day, its some hearty performances that save her.
Money Monster is the name of the show hosted by Lee Gates (George Clooney), a middle class socialite who’s pride in never having eaten alone tells you all you need to know about him at face value. His show is a testosterone fueled stock run in which he hand picks the best bargains for viewers that lap up his offerings as sound financial advice rather than the blind bravado that it is. Unfortunately one of his ‘guaranteed’ winners loses $800 million due to a glitch in the system, and he attempts to use his sweet talking to the camera to smooth over his mistake that cost a lot of viewers a lot of money. Unfortunately for Kyle Budwell (Jack O’ Connell) he lost his entire life savings, and in order to seek an explanation, he chooses to hold Gates hostage with a gun and a bomb vest in order to get some answers.
The film is split into two parts, with the first where most of the film’s praises can be found. Together, Clooney and O’ Connell bounce off each other well and are very interesting to watch unfold, change, and develop as time goes on. O’Connell brings the adrenaline while Clooney mixes in charisma to leave a potent mix that provides some very intense scenes. Due to her stature it’s also worth mentioning there’s Julia Roberts involved as Gates’ director Patsy, but other than a necessary plot point she remains a long way from Faye Dunaway’s Diana Christensen in Network.
Unfortunately the second half of the film falls into the trap of convention and becomes a simple, action-heavy thriller that provides little solace or development. Even though the character’s are fully fledged by the midway point, the way they continue in the story doesn’t keep with how they are presented, so much so that the latter part of Money Monster has Gates and Budwell best pals in an attempt to take down a mutual enemy, seemingly putting the fact that one of them threatened the others’ life as water under the bridge.
And with it becoming a typical thriller some of the satirical and unique elements of Money Monster were pushed aside. Jodie Foster was clearly attempting a Network-like mockery of news and how in the end it comes down to entertainment factor above everything else, and that’s an interesting albeit occasionally heavy handed message. Alongside the genre-breaking moments (a fantastic scene where O’Connell is confronted by his girlfriend) there is definitely take home memories of Money Monster, but ironically the film itself appears to put message aside for entertainment, and Foster falls into the same barrel she is attempting to shoot holes in. Fortunately, I’m a simple-minded viewer, and entertainment for entertainment’s sake is fine by me.