‘Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps’ Review

Published 5 years ago by , Updated March 3rd, 2014 at 6:28 am,

wall street 2 review Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps Review
Screen Rant’s Vic Holtreman reviews Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (or just plain old Wall Street 2 if you don’t want such a mouthful) is a movie by Oliver Stone that tries to do for the mortgage lending bank meltdown what he did for corporate raiders in 1987 in the original Wall Street. Michael Douglas returns a bit worse for wear after spending almost a decade in prison, and instead of a young Charlie Sheen as the protege we have Shia LeBeouf.

Personality-wise, Shia (Jake Moore) is an analogue to Charlie Sheen’s Bud Fox from the first film: Young, aggressive and ambitious – but with a sense of ethics. He’s been deeply interested in finance since he was 12 and was mentored by Louis Zabel (Frank Langella), the head of the Wall Street bank for which he works.

Jake is dating Winnie Gekko (Carey Mulligan), who is the estranged daughter of Gordon (Michael Douglas). She’s an artistic type who runs a Left wing blog and Jake is a Conservative who’s apparently not sold on the idea of evolution. Considering Oliver Stone’s political leanings, I’m not sure why he gave Shia’s character these attributes, unless it was out of a sense of wanting to be perceived as “fair” by making the hero of the film be from the “other side.”

Anyway, Jake is fascinated by Gordon even though Winnie wants nothing to do with him. Even though Gordon has been in prison for many years, Jake is desperate to meet him, against the wishes of his girlfriend. Gordon has a book out in which he warns of the impending financial collapse of the United States due to speculation (“the mother of all evil”) and leveraged borrowing. I’m sure there were wise people who saw the bank meltdown coming at the time (the film takes place in 2008), but of course it’s easy to impart such deep wisdom to a character in hindsight of the events that have taken place.

Gordon doesn’t have much in the way of a bankroll to get back into any sort of investment game, and he seems like he genuinely cares about one thing since having spent all that time in prison: Re-connecting with his daughter. Of course knowing Gordon as we do, we can’t help but suspect that he’s got something up his sleeve, despite how genuine and convincing he comes across.

Jake is big into green energy and puts most of his time into trying to secure a round of financing for a scientist who is working on a fusion power project ($100 million in financing, to be exact). Despite Winnie’s warnings, Jake gets closer and closer to Gordon – with visions of being able to secure that funding to help the scientist and to truly change the world.

Of course everything unravels, and the point is to watch how Jake somehow manages to come back from it while not damaging his relationship with his girlfriend/fiancee.

Honestly, I’m not sure what the point of this movie is. There isn’t really an engaging story here (although an attempt is made with Josh Brolin’s character as a nemesis to Jake), and it comes across more like some sort of PBS documentary about how exactly the banking crisis came about and why the decisions to bail out the banks were made. We see meetings at the Federal Reserve where the whole thing is laid out – why the banks needed to be bailed out, the catastrophe that would have followed had the first bank collapsed and others followed (worse than the Great Depression!). Frankly this felt like I was being schooled and having explained to me why the bailout was necessary.

There were other odd little touches in the film, including not one, not two but THREE cameos from Oliver Stone (Oliver if you want to be an actor that badly, just go be an actor). During a banquet scene, the camera panned repeatedly across older but attractive women, focusing (without a doubt) on their expensive earrings. If I didn’t know better I’d say Stone had an ear fetish, but of course the intent was to show the wretched excess of those evil rich people and their oh-so-overly-expensive jewelry. There were also flashback scenes at key points in the film – placed in such a way to imply that the audience was too dim-witted to recall the significance of a specific reveal, and had to be visually reminded.

Stone tried to spice up the film a bit with his camera work and visual effects – there were some interesting scenes and transitions that were pretty flashy for a movie as dry as this one.

The performances were all good – It was nice to see Shia in a serious dramatic role after the Transformers movies and Indiana Jones 4. Michael Douglas, ALWAYS a pleasure to see on screen – and he stepped right back into the iconic role he played 23 years ago like putting on a pair of comfortable old shoes. Josh Brolin is another actor who excels in every film in which he appears. Carey Mulligan gave the best performance she could despite the way her role unfolded (the very end scene and the point at which she makes a critical decision makes NO sense at all).

Was it a BAD movie? No. It was kind of interesting on an intellectual level and the performances were good – but in the end the best word I can use to describe how Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps left me feeling is… ambivalent.

Wall Street 2 trailer:

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Our Rating:

3 out of 5

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  1. Its weird I’m one of the few people who actually kind of like Shia. I hate Transformers, but I’ve enjoyed alot of his other work. Disturbia was a decent film and a nice take on rear window and Eagle Eye was a fun film that had some good moments.

    That said this movie has looked bad for awhile now so I’m not surprised it’s not getting a glowing review.

    • I like Shia too. I think he has crazy potential as an actor. His roles have gotten more mature over the years, so I’m excited to see more of him in the future.

      • You’re not the only ones that think so.

        • Nah I think so too.

    • I’ve got no beef with Shia as an actor, just some of the movies he appears in. He does decent work. Haven’t seen this show yet, probably won’t after the review, but Eagle Eye… my god… My buddy and I couldn’t contain our mirth at the big reveal. So dramatic, so tense, so right out of made-for-TV-movies (almost SyFy) writing school.

  2. I wasn’t a big fan of the first film, so I really had no interest in this film at all. I might check it out once it’s available on Netflix, but with all the movies already in my queue it could be a few years before that happens. LOL.

    • im stil trying to figure out why there was a need for a sequel to a mediocre film at best.

      • Stone’s ego?

        • How the hell is Wall Street “mediocre”? I thought it was a fantastic movie. And I’m glad that there is a sequel!

        • LOL jason, probably!

  3. Almost sounds like it’s nothing more than a cheer for the banking bailout. I’ll pass and watch the great original.

  4. I kinda feel this review was a tad spoiler-ish.

    For example: Of course everything unravels, and the point is to watch how Jake somehow manages to come back from it while not damaging his relationship with his girlfriend/fiancee.

    Granted, that COULD be inferred from the trailer, but still….

    • Mark,

      I didn’t consider that a spoiler. It’s a standard, expected story arc: We meet hero, things go well for a while, things fall apart at some point, hero must come back from adversity, hero triumphs in the end.


  5. Is Shia LaBouf all Hollywood has? I feel he has been pushed down our throats, a la Affleck in the early 2000′s and Colin Farrell from 2002 – 2008.

    This kid hasn’t done a really dramatic role yet and he doesn’t sell his characters that well. He is the same character in every movie. Maybe I’ll change my opinion after he plays a meaty role that takes him out of his acting element (think Charlize Theron in Monster).

    I won’t be seeing this movie, another 80′s reboot, if for any other reason than Hollywood needs to produce some ORIGINAL material (thank the gods for Inception).

    • im not a fan of the guy but isn`t this a chance for the breakout drumatic role you mentioned?

  6. I can’t wait to see this film. I have been waiting forever! The first one was amazing and I really don’t think they would let this one slide any less.

  7. “Directed by Oliver Stone” already told me to not watch this movie…

  8. Can you tell us anything about Bud Fox’s (Charlie Sheen) cameo in this?!?

    • Sin,

      I didn’t want to spoil that.

      Yes, he’s in it, nothing more than a cameo. I don’t watch Two and a Half Men so it was jarring to me to see him – he looks… kind of plastic. It’s an interesting little scene, though.


  9. All check this out on used dvd,,,

    I hope Michael beats down his cancer!


    • ahh 790…im kinda surprised you wanna see this at all lol.

  10. Anthony its because this could be Michaels last big film. And if it is, then I wanna see it.
    I don’t have a prob with Shia.

  11. This review was spot-on. I just got home from the theater, and I keep wondering what point this film was trying to make. If I had known that Stone only directed the film (and that he didn’t write it), I probably wouldn’t have gone to see it. It’s certainly not a worthy follow-up to Wall Street.

  12. dont expect what you got the first time…. not at all. I’d wait for the dvd. one more word to descibe “disapointed” (saw 1 hour ago…blaghhh!!!)

  13. Such a shame, if true. Some great stories are ruined by sequels, no doubt.

  14. Im a great fan of the 80′s original, since watching it the first time about 10 years ago i have always watched several times a year, it gears me up, gets me hungry for money, makes my mind spiral in fantasy about the ladder to the good life/success, gives you an amazing perspective of business and how exciting it can be when things are going good… the power meetings, watching gecko run his empire, talking about big money, showing big money, its takes us to a fantasy land. The sequel…. wot the hell happended? i dont even know what it was about, shia labouf character starts off already successful, so you dont get to join the ride, michael douglas is out of prison, then suddenly successful again, doesnt take u on the journey, no splenders of wealth exhibited to get the audience jelously excited, big board meetings which dont really have much relivance to the story (they would be interesting if they did)… a weak love story, a weak story about geckos climb back to the top… it kind of just dibbles in several little stories if you can even call them that. I was suprised at the end of the movie that it was over, and puzzled as to what the actual story was. such a shame! In this case it comes down to very bad directing and weak writing. Good acting though, michael douglas captures then seen everytime :)

  15. Why does Michael Dougals always cast the most ratchest looking women as his daughters. Honestly, whoever that girl with a face for radio was, she ruined it for me and I wish i could return this dvd to walmart. The whole time I’m sitting there going, NO ONE would fall madly in love with this. NOONE! #ruinedmovie #fail

  16. Sometimes I wonder if film critics like movies… It seems the only times I read a good review about a movie, it’s because the critic likes the filmmaker in the first place.

    Anyway, I liked the movie a lot. It was engaging and, yes, educational (which I loved). It also catered to a much wider audience than the 1987 movie. I didn’t like the first part all that much, it was harder to relate to. But in this part, LaBeouf is the person many -many- of us are, in my opinion. I don’t really consider this to be a “sequel”, it’s more like a remake that coincides with today’s events. And it did a great job being just that.