Monday, May 16, 2016


In her short directing career, Jodie Foster has time well-spent in exploring the human condition; from depression to guilt to greed on the big and small screen. In her newest effort, MONEY MONSTER, the human condition comes second, as Foster takes to the business of the American financial world.

Lee Gates (George Clooney) is a TV-show host of a financial cable show dishing out stock tips, who is taken hostage while on the air by Kyle (Jack O’Connell), who is blames Lee for a bad stock investment which wiped out his savings. Kyle insists that they stay on the air while Patty (Julia Roberts), the show’s producer, tries to keep the live hostage situation from becoming a deadly one.

MONEY MONSTER sets itself up as a hostage thriller, with one determined man literally holding everyone at gunpoint just so his voice can be heard. Not content to just sit in the studio with the gun and hostages, Jodie Foster spins her film off into procedural land, looking into the bad investment which sent Kyle over the edge. There is a lot of corporate sneaking around going on, led by a too-rich-for-his-own-good CEO (Dominic West), who plays games with his company’s press officer (Caitriona Balfe) by keeping her in the dark from the truth. There’s a lot weaving in and out of the TV studio as Kyle’s bad investment and drama unfold for the world to see, and MONEY MONSTER also takes a bite out of journalistic integrity and ethics just for good measure.

MONEY MONSTER begins to lose its teeth as things unfold. Characters are always at the center of any drama, and Foster winds up with a band of idiots and jerks that no one would care if they win or lose. Kyle comes off as pouty and stupid more than dramatic, and Lee is just a large ego-head with no likeable qualities. Patty, who is meant to hold it all together and essentially has everyone’s lives in her hands, is just a grump who would rather be doing anything else. But the biggest sin Foster commits is that MONEY MONSTER is very dull; for a film which spends 90% of its time with a man pointing a gun at another’s head (complete with a lot of yelling and cussing), there is very little tension to be felt.

MONEY MONSTER plays out in real-time, so the script takes a lot of shortcuts with the technology available. Television cameras and the stock market do things that are impossible, the cops are portrayed as the Keystone kind, and many of the characters make idiotic decisions only because the script needs them too.

Acting isn’t terrible, but it isn’t wonderful either. George Clooney plays the part of an obnoxious TV host pretty well, but when he’s off-camera and needs to play a jerk, it seems that not even Clooney can overcome the Clooney charm. Jack O’Connell is fine but was asked to scream too much, and Julia Roberts is just kind of…there. The real standout is the lovely Caitriona Balfe, who does the most work and has to deal with the most emotion.

MONEY MONSTER seems to have an identity crisis as it can’t quite decide if it wants to be a satire on greed and journalism or a dramatic take. It isn’t until the final few minutes where Foster makes a real statement on how people react to real-life drama, but by then its way too late. MONEY MONSTER is dull, boring, silly at times…and a waste of all talent involved.


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