Yes, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) emerges from jail with his mobile phone and little else to his name and seeks to regain his status as a greedy master of the universe. We’re suckers enough to dance down Wall Street behind this silver-maned pied piper even though we know he’s up to no good because Douglas still has all of his rascally charm. It’s too bad though that Oliver Stone, as a filmmaker and social critic, has misplaced his once considerable gifts because he and Douglas might have been able to put the squeeze on us once again.
Instead, we find ourselves in the hands of a merely competent director who figured it might be fun to speculate on the financial market a bit by taking a look at the margins of the recent collapse and presenting a few cardboard cutouts as villains for audiences to shake their fists at. The chief mustache twirler is Bretton James (Josh Brolin) who had ties to Gekko from the early days to his downfall and eventual imprisonment, so you know there’s going to be a degree of comeuppance in the mix. Brolin seems to be Stone’s maliciously mannered (and potentially misunderstood) muse, but here, unlike in W, we get the sense that the narrative and the lack of perspective on the events covered have conspired to present him as little more than a one-armed plot contrivance.
The real story, such as it is, centers on Gekko’s manipulation of his daughter Winnie (Carey Mulligan) and her naive boyfriend Jake (Shia LaBeouf), an eager beaver of a Wall Street guy with green energy dreams. Jake loves Winnie, but soon realizes that there are more reasons to love her than he knew, but Gordon threatens to steal everything in what amounts to a credit default swap.
None of it makes any sense and it means even less, but the whole episode reminds us that you can never sleep on a sneaky old master of the game. Maybe Stone took some lessons from Douglas and will come back next time with something worth our time and money. (tt stern-enzi)