MONEY MONSTER reunites George Clooney and Julia Roberts and it’s directed by Jodie Foster, who, has been operating successfully for many years as a women behind the camera and under the radar in Hollywood. Shouldn’t we be supporting these actors and director? Is MONEY MONSTER worth your time and money?
Financial advisor Lee Gates (George Clooney) struts around the set of “MONEY MONSTER”, his market analysis and forecasting cable show shepherded by the producer in his ear Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts). Kyle Budwell (played by the ever-rising star Jack O’Connell), a blue-collar worker who has lost his nest egg, disrupts the studio and takes over on-air by waving a gun and strapping a bomb-vest on Gates. He wants answers about a company, IBIS Clear Capital, and their disastrous 800 million dollar stock loss that rocked the market. Chief Communications Officer Diane Lester (Caitriona Balfe) is poised to speak on his show about the computer glitch that is supposedly to blame, but Budwell’s not buying it. The rest of the film is a taut thriller that balances the sweat-inducing placation-filled dialogue between Gates and Budwell, and the race to get to the truth behind IBIS’s claim about their losses before Budwell blows himself and the whole building up.
There’s much to enjoy in MONEY MONSTER. The lean script whisks audiences through the movie’s 90 minutes, while the dialogue reveals character motivations, and creates connection with all the co-starring cast members. The plot continually subverts expectation, setting them up only to later knock them down. This is what a movie for adults looks like, folks. Without question harkening back to the 70s and 80s films of Sidney Lumet and Alan Pakula, MONEY MONSTER has the guts to be entertaining at the same time as asking more of itself. Clooney, Roberts, and O’Connell are all in top form. In this particular role, Clooney’s proclivity for head bobbing works as the recognized signature movement of a self absorbed star, and the actor uses it as he does his character’s props. As the nervy, desperate man with his hand on the trigger, O’Connell, who is an award-winning A-lister in Europe may finally become a household name in the US.
On the downside, the story requires a colossal suspension of disbelief, most markedly in some idealistic-leaning plot-points. Foster and her team seem to know all this, and accept it as part of the story they want to tell. The subject matter also seems dated rather than of-the-moment. While all this is slightly distracting, it doesn’t deter viewers from buying into the convoluted threads that lead to an exciting climax.
Regardless of the optimism and moments of lightness peeking through, Foster as the director succeeds in making a film that keeps audiences connected to the drama through its conclusion. Clearly, it is meant as a diversion first and foremost. Sophisticated and suspenseful, Money Monster is grown-up entertainment and a solid investment.