May 28, 2016
If not for its headlining A-list stars, I would not even consider watching a movie with a bad title like this one. I had no idea what this film was going to be about before I went to watch it, just its stellar cast. Thankfully, I did.
(Side note: The first time I tried to watch it in SM North EDSA on Thursday, the second day of release. I was shocked to find out that it had already been pulled out! So, it turns out not even Hollywood films, not even those with big stars in the cast, are spared from this unfortunate practice of first day-last day in mall cinemas. Fortunately, I later found out that this is still being shown in other malls other than SM.)
"Money Monster" turned out to be title of a cheesy financial TV show hosted by the obnoxiously entertaining stock market expert Lee Gates (George Clooney). He is loud, arrogant and even dances on his show. His show's director is the calm and collected Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts), who was already considering a change in her employment.
One day, one of Gates' hot stock picks IBIS Clear Capital suffered a "glitch" in its trading algorithm such that its investors lost $800M. On the day that Gates was to interview IBIS CEO Walt Camby (Dominic West) on his show, a disgruntled young man Kyle Budwell (Jack O'Connell) sneaked into the studio with a loaded gun and two bomb vests to hold Gates and Camby responsible for his disastrous investment.
Even with a very unlikeable role like Lee Gates, George Clooney still manages to hold our attention and draw us into his side. He did feel like he was playing his joker self at times. Julia Roberts had been on a career slump recently, but this role as Patty was a step in the positive direction. It was interesting to read that Clooney and Roberts actually shot most of their scenes separately from each other because of their busy schedules. However, they had chemistry together on screen despite this.
However, the actor to watch in this movie is really Jack O'Connell, who played the distraught hostage taker Kyle. I had seen him before in the war film "Unbroken" where he was really impressive as Louis Zamperini, a survivor of both a plane crash and a Japanese concentration camp during World War II. In "Money Monster," O'Connell delivered a riveting portrayal of a desperate man driven to an act of crazy violence. He will be able to rally you to sympathize with his plight and fate, despite knowing the stupidity of what he was doing.
Dominic West lacked screen presence as the CEO Camby, but Caitriona Balfe (from TV's "Outlander") did better in her pivotal role as IBIS spokesman Diane Lester. Other actors made their mark with their smaller roles, particularly Emily Meade (as Kyle's girlfriend Molly) and Aaron Woo (as the Korean IT expert Won).
Props go to the skillful direction of Ms. Jodie Foster. I was surprised to see her name up there when the credits rolled as I did not know this information going in. The storytelling and the editing of the scenes were so tight and exciting even when the situations do get too unbelievable or illogical. The humor was subtle and sharp. The suspense aspect was topnotch as we are held breathless as the hostage drama unfolded real time. The aftermath scenes were on-point, recognizing how the world of mass media turns these days. 8/10.