Rated PG-13 for brief strong language and thematic elements, 133 minutes
Stone's flawed, hypnotic revisionist tale "Money Never Sleeps"
Gordon Gekko and Oliver Stone's Oscar-winning 1987 film "Wall Street" helped define an '80s generation with his iconic line "Greed is good." Gekko (again played by Michael Douglas, pre-cancer), along with greed in contemporary form, is back in Stone's sequel "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps." Gekko isn't the main character but he's the best one in the overlong, preachy but hypnotic tale that takes place around the time of the latest Wall Street collapse.
It's 2008 and the global economy is on the brink of disaster. A brash but sharp young Wall Street trader named Jake (Shia LaBeouf) partners with disgraced corporate tycoon and now ex-con Gordon Gekko (Douglas) in a mission with two equally important parts. One is financial, to help shed light on illegal activity by a ruthless financier (Josh Brolin) who was partly to blame for the death of Jake's mentor (Frank Langella). The other is personal, to help bring Gordon and his daughter Winnie (Carey Mulligan), who is also engaged to Jake, back together again.
Stone's "Wall Street" sequel is a mesmerizing, well-acted but flawed tale, made better only by Douglas, who's again terrific as a much older and wiser Gekko. Douglas/Gekko isn't in every scene, and his role is a notch above a supporting part, but his presence is felt in every scene. Just as good is recent Oscar-nominee Mulligan in a low-key but affecting performance as the daughter who he clearly wounded with his absence. LaBeouf gives his usual, engaging movie-star performance that shows qualities of a younger Douglas.
Stone lets the proceedings go on far too long and some will get lost in all the heavy financial talk. The dialogue as a whole suffers and Stone tends to paint in broad strokes taking it far too earnestly. He gathers an eclectic cast whose performances are a mixed bag. Brolin is a decent slimeball but Langella overacts in a small role, Susan Sarandon doesn't belong at all, and Eli Wallach shamelessly mugs for the camera. Watch for a cameo from Charlie Sheen as his character from the first film.
If the cast in "Money Never Sleeps" is interesting, the music that Stone chose for the film is just an intriguing: an alt-folksy-rock blend from Brian Eno and Talking Heads' David Byrne. It's an unusual choice that doesn't always work and sometimes intrudes into scenes that has you wishing for the music to go away all together. The script is uneven and often unrealistic, with portrayals that make it too easy to pinpoint the bad guys and their misdeeds, which isn't always the case in similar real-life situations.
Still, even flawed imperfect Oliver Stone (who also cameos) is better than most, and his mesmerizing revisionist tale bounces with energy, quick editing and bright colors. Entertaining, overlong and too earnest, Douglas' Gekko will still make it a good investment of your time.