Jodie Foster directs and George Clooney stars as the flamboyant TV presenter Lee Gates who is taken hostage on live TV by Kyle Budwell played by Jack O’Connell.
Lee Gates (Clooney) is an over the top, materialistic, shallow presenter of the TV show Money Monster, which is a gimmicky money advice program, with the focus mainly on the gimmicks. Imagine Gangnam Style but with white people and dodgy financial advice. Clooney plays the character with an incredible amount of charm and charisma that only Clooney himself is capable of. Julia Roberts plays Patty Fenn, his long term director. Considering the two are only in the same room for about 5 minutes of the film they have fantastic chemistry and their relationship is one of the prominent and most enjoyable aspects of the film.
The show is underway when Kyle Budwell (O’Connell) takes Gates and the rest of the crew hostage by holding Gates and gunpoint and forcing him to wear an explosive vest. Turns out he’s a tad pissed off that a company Gates said was safe to invest in saw a massive drop in their share prices, because of a ‘computer glitch’, resulting in an $800m dollar loss for its shareholders. Budwell has become disillusioned at the economic state of the country as the poor, or the working class, the regular people, are paying the price for the mistakes of the rich, while they can continue living their lavish lives as if nothing has happened. There’s a moment where Gates offers to pay Budwell the $60k he lost and the disgust on Budwell’s face when Gates admits that’s just spare change to him is telling and is really the crux of this film.
Budwell wants one thing, answers. And he’s willing to do anything to get them. Why is nobody more curious as to how $800m was lost? Why are the poor being fobbed off, patronised, instead of being told the truth as to were their money has gone? Why aren’t the rich affected by this at all? Why is it always the little man to suffer? He’s not the villain by any means. He’s not a killer or a terrorist, he’s just a guy who’s had enough bullshit. As O’Connell isn’t the villain, Clooney most definitely isn’t the hero. But he has the biggest character arc. Gates gets to know, sympathise and even like Budwell despite having his life threatened as he tries to buy time for the police to rescue the situation.
Over the course of ninety or so minutes the situation unfolds and evolves as Budwell gets more and more desperate in his attempt to find the truth. While the film doesn’t really give us anything new or even give us a different way of looking at familiar situation it is an enjoyable watch. It’s not as inventive or funny as The Big Short, for example. But it is good, it’s tense and packed full of raw emotion. That’s credit to the excellent performances all round. Particularly from Clooney, who undergoes a real transformation, and O’Connell who plays the fury so well that you genuinely feel his pain.
GOOD. We’d recommend this one. While it’s not revolutionary, it’s a really enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours and it’s worth watching, if just for the performances.