Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
Directed by Oliver Stone
Starring Shia LaBeouf, Michael Douglas, Carey Mulligan, Josh Brolin
Rated R

2.5 stars

Set 23 years after its predecessor, “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” stars Shia LaBoeuf as a Wall Street wunderkind Jake Moore, whose beloved boss commits suicide when their investment firm mysteriously devalues to near nothing.

Jake suspects more than evil market forces at work and goes after shifty hedge fund manager Bretton James, played by Josh Brolin with good old-fashioned malice. For guidance, he solicits advice from his fiance’s (Carey Mulligan) estranged father, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), the original “Wall Street” anti-hero who is now out of jail and somewhat the wiser for it.

His alliance with Gekko is bad news to his future wife, though, who doesn’t talk to her father and whose daddy issues have left her with a pathological attitude towards anything resembling wealth.

“Wall Street 2” has all the makings of a juicy financial thriller — compelling actors, a suspenseful premise, sexy scenes of New York City as the backdrop. If you watch with modest expectations, you’ll be modestly entertained.

In the end, though, the movie becomes downright unwieldy as the story shifts between high-concept intrigue and intimate drama.

Most problematic is Stone’s allegiance to the Gekko character, which feels more and more superfluous as the minutes tick away. Gekko has a place in this sequel, but the script doesn’t allot him the importance that his screen time implies.

The story is made all the messier by the unforgivably busy camerawork. Oliver Stone constantly pans and swivels the camera to generate a sense of urgency, but it comes across as ostentatious and simply dizzying. He also ornaments the film with cheesy graphic interludes in which LED numbers tick across the screen at warp speed.

The most groan-inducing moments of the film, though, are the bubble scenes. There’s a lot of talk of financial bubbles in the movie, and Stone came up with the genius idea to encapsulate all that talk by filming … bubbles! Tons! Floating through the air! Really? Yes, really.

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