Review in a Hurry: "Greed is good" is still the phrase that pays as Michael Douglas suits up for this sequel to Oliver Stone's '80s hit. But here's our stock tip: Put everything on Shia LaBeouf and Carey Mulligan as a couple trying to survive in a Manhattan run by 21st-century Gekkos. For Stone, this noisy, melodramatic investment in nostalgia and social commentary pays off (mostly).
The Bigger Picture: You probably know this, but Oliver Stone is not a subtle director. Money Never Sleeps is ablaze with a manic cutting style, over-the-top performances and plenty of eye candy. The director's mantra is more! more! more!, and he mounts crazy (and silly) visuals, such as red neon stock prices that dance across the screen against a backdrop of the Big Apple's most expensive toys.
The story picks up in 2001, as a disheveled Gordon Gekko (Douglas) is released from the clink, having served his time for securities fraud, money laundering, and racketeering. Seven years later, a wiser Gekko arrives in NYC to debut his book Is Greed Good?
All this matters very little to young trader (LaBeouf), who's more green than greedy, hoping to settle down to with his girlfriend Winnie (the always-charming Mulligan), who just happens to be Gekko's estranged daughter.
But after his boss (Frank Langella) is ruthlessly eviscerated by corporate rival (Josh Brolin), Shia's Jake Moore starts thinking What Would Gordon Gekko Do? So he agrees to help Gekko get in good graces with Winnie in exchange for guidance on how to take Brolin's Gekko 2.0 type.
This is exactly what a Wall Street sequel should be, filled with larger-than-life plots, performances and spectacle. Thankfully, all the style-over-substance has a sense of urgency supplied by a top-notch cast. Eager-to-please LeBeouf and Mulligan contrast nicely with the could-care-less 'tudes of veterans like Douglas and Brolin.
Sadly, Stone's strength for examining our current economic crisis is weakened by the script. The last act falters with soap opera themes of thwarted love and the tired "long con" plot device.
Michael Douglas, though, can sell anything.
The 180—a Second Opinion: Why can't Susan Sarandon (as LeBeouf's mother) find a consistent Jersey accent for the mere three scenes she's in? Oh, and the less said about Charlie Sheen's "surprise" appearance the better.