Stock company IBIS Clear Capital loses $800 million dollars when a trading algorithm “glitches” inexplicably. Lee Gates (George Clooney) hosts a gimmicky, Mad Money-style stock show that gets hijacked by a gunman (Jack O’Connell) as a result of this stock collapse. Our hijacking criminal is trying to reveal the real criminals: the Wall Street bigwigs. How topical.
The film is littered with logical pitfalls and narrative conveniences, but we can let these slide, because this is less of a thinking person’s movie than it wants to be.
Interestingly, this film is more effective as a comedy than a thriller. The purposeful comedic moments are better than the moments of tension. Billed as a comedy, and this film could have passed as an interesting tonal experiment. The film is marketed as a thriller, a bar it doesn’t quite reach, but it would work as a middle of the road comedy. A black comedy, but still.
As for the real thriller intrigue, it plateaus quickly. You can view the film as a critical indictment of the one-percenters exploiting the 99 percent for their cash, but it is a superficial wrinkle to unfold.
The acting trio of O’Connell, Clooney, and Julia Roberts keeps the script afloat throughout the tight runtime. They are the major forces keeping the film from sinking. O’Connell brings another strong performance, although his character is far less nuanced than some from his past, leaving something to be desired.
The issue with Money Monster boils down to a miscalculation of tone. For a thriller, it thrills occasionally. As a social commentary, it falls horribly flat. But as an exciting close-quarters film, it delivers enough to get by, with a surprising number of laughs. Don’t go in expecting a tightly structured Michael Mann-like film, and you could extract some enjoyment out of the anachronistic lightness of it all.
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)