Money Monster
dir Jodie Foster
scr Jamie Linden, Alan DiFiore, Jim Kouf
prd George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Lara Alameddine, Daniel Dubiecki
with George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O'Connell, Dominic West, Caitriona Balfe, Giancarlo Esposito, Christopher Denham, Lenny Venito, Chris Bauer, Dennis Boutsikaris, Emily Meade, Aaron Yoo
release US 13.May.16, UK 27.May.16
16/US Sony 1h38
Money Monster
Desperation: Clooney and O'Connell

roberts west foster
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Money Monster Snappy and sleek, this sharply well-made film is a superb mix of comedy and suspense underpinned by a very big issue. But more than anything else, it's a lot of fun, directed by Jodie Foster to be engaging entertainment. The movie kind of glides along the surface, offering terrific character interaction through its twisty plot. But it's the pointed jabs at the media and banking industries that linger.

From Wall Street, Lee Gates (Clooney) host the lively investment TV show Money Monster, directed by his long-time friend Patty (Roberts). One day in the middle of a broadcast, Lee is hijacked live on-air by Kyle (O'Connell), who's angry because Lee's advice cost him his entire savings. But Kyle's real target is Walt (West), the executive behind the firm Lee encouraged him to invest in, which experienced a huge loss due to a computer glitch. But as Kyle's actions gather global headlines, it becomes clear that there's more to the story.

The plot plays out on a series of layers, with the central hostage situation surrounded by smaller dramas involving the three main characters, plus various producers, executives and assistants played superbly by the likes of Balfe, Sprecher and Venito. Meanwhile, the police captain (Esposito) wants to take a heavy-handed approach. And Patty uses contacts in Korea and Iceland to work out what Walt has been up to in South Africa.

It's an enjoyably globe-hopping thriller in which most of the travel is done using phones and video screens. And this never weakens the way the characters converse and clash. Clooney throws himself into the grandstanding Lee, then finds surprising subtlety as things spiral increasingly out of control. Roberts' role is steely, likeable and energetic, the engine of the entire film. And the excellent O'Connell provides the heart as a young man at the very end of his tether.

Thankfully, Foster and the screenwriters never hedge their bets, taking a full-powered swipe at banking practices that are technically legal but thoroughly immoral. They also let the story develop in intriguingly realistic directions, maintaining the black humour while building tension that has such a jagged edge to it that it's impossible to predict how the situation will play out. So in the end, while evil bankers might feel like a rather obvious target, the film is smart enough to be satisfying and cynical at the same time.

cert 15 themes, language, violence, sexuality 12.May.16

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© 2016 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall