Return of the Gekko

Coming back from several flops (W. and The World Trade Center), director Oliver Stone returns with the second installment of his 1987 film Wall Street, hoping to regain some of his earlier success.

Viewers could easily assume that Stone was simply cashing in on arguably one of his best known films by making a sequel and casting big names both young and old, such as Shia LaBeouf and Susan Surandon, to fill the roles. Surprisingly, this was not the case; Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps is an exciting interpretation of the dirty and slimy work that goes on in between the lines in the financial capital of the world.

Michael Douglas returns strong, playing the role of investment shark Gordon Gekko extremely well. Gekko is the typical Wall Street tycoon who cares nothing about family (specifically his daughter Winnie Gekko, played by Carey Mulligan) and finds security and purpose in making money.

Gekko is now an older man, humbled by his time in prison and learned about his foul stock market practices, which he had plenty of in the first film.  He then meets a suave top gun by the name of Jake Moore (played by Shia LaBeouf) at one of his college lectures.  Moore drops the bomb and says that he is marrying Gekko’s daughter, making the two instant colleagues. Gekko sees some of himself in Moore and candidly describes their relationship by saying, “A fisherman can spot another fisherman a mile away.”

Unfortunately, LaBeouf is given little to work with in the script.  He gives hischaracter plenty of emotion and is viewed as the cocky fish trying to swim in a pool of financial barracudas.  Although he is a huge part of the plot, LaBeouf’s character is simply used as a pawn between Gekko and Josh Brolin’s character, Bretton James.

Screenwriters Allen Loeb and Stephen Schiff gave a very vivid and accurate depiction of what happened in 2008 when the economy was brought to its knees by faulty loans and risky investments with Moore’s company, Keller Zabel Investments, in the middle of it.

Moore’s conflicted feelings begin to develop between his two mentors.  On the one hand, he has Gekko, the wise man who has learned from his mistakes and gives Moore vital information about the market. On the other, James makes insider trading look cool and will do anything to make money, ultimately posing a bad influence.  This plays as an interesting foil throughout the whole movie.      

Another central idea of this movie is greed.  Not only is the word used in the title of Gekko’s book, Is Greed Good?, but it stays embedded in Moore’s mind throughout the film.  He eventually succumbs to the practices of insider trading and the immoral practices that put Gekko in jail in the first place. This strains the relationship between Moore and Winnie because she sees too much of her father in him.

This movie has plenty of great aspects about it such as the direction, the characters and the intricate sub-plots but it does not come without flaws.

First, there is a big difference between witty, intellectual banter and monologues, which occurs frequently in the movie. Without this boring dialogue, the movie could have easily been just under two hours.

Two cameos could have been omitted as well. Charlie Sheen revives his role as Bud Fox from the first Wall Street for five minutes,which seemed forced, awkward and clichéd. Director Stone, known for being in every movie he directs, appears as Random Investor #2.

Besides these minor downfalls, Wall Street 2is a dynamite film. Stone and the writers did a tremendous job of painting a believable and detailed picture of the vultures that make up most of downtown Manhattan today. Going into the theater skeptical, viewers soon learn from Gordon Gekko himself that “the mother of all evil is speculation.” Wall Street 2is a definite must-see.