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Movie Reviews

Film Review: “Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps”

(20TH Century Fox. 2 hours, 16 minutes. Rated PG-13 for brief strong language and thematic elements. Directed by Oliver Stone.) Michael Douglas (Gordon Gekko), Shia LaBeouf (Jacob Moore), Carey Mulligan (Winnie Gekko), Frank Langella (Lewis Zabel), Susan Sarandon (Sylvia Moore), Josh Brolin (Bretton Woods). Music by Craig Armstrong.

23 years after the original Wall Street, Oliver Stone revisits his most iconic screen character, Gordon Gekko, take-no-prisoners product of the go-go 1980s. Is greed still good? Not so much. Our present tale starts with Gekko’s release from prison after an 8-year stretch, now on the outside of a world he once dominated (he even gets dissed by a magazine editor in a restaurant). While we’re waiting for Gekko’s reinvention, we’ve got Jake Moore (the new Bud Fox), who hopes to marry Winnie Gekko, Gordon’s daughter, who runs a lefty blog. Winnie hates Dad, and Jake makes several attempts to reconcile the two; meanwhile Jake’s own aspirations lead him to sign on with financier Bretton Woods (the new Gordon). The problem there is that Gekko the Elder considers Woods instrumental in sending him to jail.

Meanwhile we’re treated to a recap of the last two years of Wall Street’s meltdown…that is, if you can follow the rapid-fire jargon. Plots, subplots, and plot threads abound. A number of acting veterans pop up for 5 seconds (Sarandon, Langella, Eli Wallach), and just to make sure you’re paying attention, Sylvia Miles is back as a real-estate agent (funny and crusty the first time, just crusty now). Even Charlie Sheen’s Bud Fox, now a fat-cat businessman, makes his required cameo. Gekko 2.0, like the movie, never really gels here. Douglas tries hard, and has his moments, but looks every year of his real age (66), and frankly is on the sidelines most of the time. The focus is on LaBeouf, who can match Sheen’s dynamism but sorely needs his charm. In short, Stone throws a lot of ingredients into the pot, but the end result is less lobster bisque, and more (with apologies to the leading lady) Mulligan stew.