|Hey! That's not George Clooney!|
IntroIt seems that every year or so, there's another hostage drama that pops up. Some try to make us forget that we've already seen them before (Air Force One 1997, Hostage 2005, The Taking of Pelham 123 2009). Others attempt to make commentaries on "today's" issues (Dog Day Afternoon 1975, John Q 2002, Captain Phillips 2013).
While some are just entertaining popcorn flicks (Die Hard 1988, Speed 1994, The Negotiator 1998). And strangely enough, some even flip the script and turn out to be about cannibalistic Mexican vampires (From Dusk till Dawn 1996). Hey! That last one starred George Clooney as a murdering bank robber turned vampire slayer. What a completely unintentional segue into...
This isn't Jodie Foster's first shot at directing. She's done episodes of Orange is the New Black and House of Cards, as well as films like Little Man Tate (1991) and The Beaver (2011). Her precise acting skills (The Silence of the Lambs 1991) and multiple commands behind the camera, have given her the ability to construct even an unbalanced film like Money Monster, into an entertaining hostage drama.
That along with the god like screen presence of Mr. Clooney, makes this film better than it should be. At no point did I ever get bored. The drama is crisp and the acting grabs your attention. But here's the problem; This film is only as relevant as its social commentary about our trendy temporary concern is. As with environmental disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes, some workers trapped in a mine across the globe, or a tragic school shooting; Those of us who aren't directly affected, do not truly give a damn.
We turn off our concern with the click of a channel change, and move on to the next distraction. Also, the economic events of this film might have had a much more profound meaning if Money Monster was made back in 2008, when people were pissed and wanted answers. Now, it's almost an afterthought.
Our concern for Clooney and his costars, rides on the film's presumption that a quick throw away background on these characters, will somehow make up for the fact that not one single person has much depth, including the angry hostage taker (Jack O'Connell, Unbroken 2014). Clooney always makes acting look so easy, but even he can't hold it up for everybody else for an entire film.
Julia Roberts (Ocean's 11 2001), who shares almost no actual screen time time with Clooney, plays her usual calm, then jittery, then back to zen-like calm self, for what seems like a thankless role. Thankfully, a few light moments doused with humor breaks up this film's attempts at true tension. Here's the biggest problem though; Nearly the entire film including the ending was given away in the trailers! So for someone like myself who goes to the theaters and sees previews on a weekly basis, Money Monster was already shown before I even saw it.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, of Money Monster
The Good- The erectile cream test, Balls!, the pregnant girlfriend misfire, the failed plea to the world, and Dominic West (The Wire) screams on YouTube.
The Bad- Did they really do the whole "trick the bad guy into confession" ploy? I thought that that convenient cliche disappeared back in the 90's?
The Ugly- After what Clooney's character learned and experienced, why didn't he say something about his captor on his highly watched show? This movie is supposed to make us take notice of how big corporations are ripping us off on a daily basis. But if it can't even show respect to its own messenger (O'Connell), then why should we care?
Money Monster is good at distracting you from how empty it truly is. It's still not enough though. If you want to see something better that has just as many commonplace themes, then check out The Negotiator. At least with that one, you won't be lead to think that you should care, or something like that.
Rating- 5 out of 10
Money Monster (2016)
R | 1h 38min | Crime, Drama, Thriller | 13 May 2016 (USA)
Financial TV host Lee Gates and his producer Patty are put in an extreme situation when an irate investor takes over their studio.
Director: Jodie Foster
Writers: Jamie Linden (screenplay), Alan DiFiore (screenplay)
Stars: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O'Connell