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Money Monster - Review

Money Monster

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

JODIE Foster’s fourth film as director may boast big stars and big themes but while often outrageously enjoyable, it’s bark is ultimately bigger than its bite.

Money Monster plays best as a taut hostage thriller featuring some excellent performances that succeeds in taking some well-judged pot-shots at financial institutions and media outlets. But contrary to Foster’s claims that it asks some big questions of both, it opts for a more Hollywood-style approach that ends up feeling more than a little naïve.

If you take it as a brash slice of popular filmmaking, however, then you’re in for a decent ride.

George Clooney heads the cast as Lee Gates, a charming but egotistical frontman for a financial analysis show who offers get-rich-quick tips for those seeking a quick fortune on the stock exchange. But when one of his recommendations loses millions overnight, one of his investors – Jack O’Connell’s struggling father-to-be Kyle Budwell – crashes his show and takes him hostage, strapping a bomb to his chest and demanding answers from those responsible.

Watching from the side-lines, by way of the control room, is Julia Roberts’ Patty Fenn, Gates’ long-suffering producer, who attempts to keep things calm by whispering advice into her host’s ear while reaching beyond the studio for a solution that might defuse the situation.

For long periods, Foster’s film thrives on the interplay between the central trio, while making some astute observations about the unscrupulous nature of high finance and the morally dubious decision-making of the press.

But once things race towards their climax, plausibility begins to get stretched. And it’s then that Foster’s film struggles to hold up – torn between the need to supply a satisfying, audience-friendly ending and maintaining any lasting bite.

So, with this in mind, it’s best just to sit back and enjoy the many plus points, from Clooney’s expertly realised journey from self-serving egotist to conscience stricken idealist, to Roberts’ calm, caring protector turned investigator.

O’Connell is good value, too, even though his character is more thinly drawn, while Foster deserves a fair bit of credit for offering up one or two genuine surprises that wrong-foot viewers while injecting some welcome humour amid the tension. Hell, she even puts Clooney through his paces with a couple of excruciating hip-hop dance routines that out-idiot his work with the Coens.

Hence, while Money Monster never hits the heights of the films it aspires to – such as ’70s classic Dog Day Afternoon or financial titan Margin Call – it’s a worthwhile investment of your time that won’t leave you feeling that short-changed.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 98mins
UK Release Date: May 27, 2016