Is Greed Still Good?

September 27, 2010
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

“Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” is a 2010 sequel to the 1987 popular movie “Wall Street”. It follows the actions of Gordon Gekko, a Wall Street trader, after his release from prison. This is the first sequel Oliver Stone has done to any of his movie.

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street” was a wake-up call about the financial wreck Wall Street was headed for. Had we only listened. Or perhaps we listened too well, and Gordon Gekko became the role model for a generation of amoral financial pirates who put hundreds of millions into their pockets while bankrupting their firms and bringing the economy to its knees.

Michael Douglas reprises his Academy Award-winning role of Gordon Gekko and Shia LaBeouf, Josh Brolin, Carey Mulligan, and Frank Langella also star in the film. Charlie Sheen reprises his role as Bud Fox as a cameo. Actress Susan Sarandon who plays Shia’s mother shines in a very minor role.

The first movie left off with Gekko going to jail after Bud Fox (played by Charlie Sheen) sang like a canary to the judges over Gekko’s involvement with insider trading.  In the sequel, it is now 2008 and Gordon Gekko is released from prison and finds himself a little outdated and an outcast.

Set in New York City, the film takes place 23 years after the original, revolving around the 2008 financial crisis. The film’s plot mainly centers around the reformed Gekko acting as more of an antihero rather than a villain and follows his attempts to help Wall Street before its soon-to-be stock market crash as well as trying to repair his relationship with his estranged daughter Winnie (Carey Mulligan) with the help of Jack Moore (Shia LaBeouf), Winnie’s fiance. In return, Gekko helps Jack get revenge on the man he blames for his mentor’s death.

Jake Moore works for an old-line Wall Street house named Keller Zabel, headed by his mentor and father figure Louis Zabel (Frank Langella). This firm is brought to its knees by Bretton James (Josh Brolin), who is instrumental in spreading rumors about its instability. In a tense boardroom confrontation, Zabel is forced to sell out for a pittance. The next morning, he rises, has his soft-boiled egg, and throws himself under a subway train.

The death of his beloved mentor gives Jake a motive: He wants revenge on Bretton James, and suddenly all the parts come together: How he can hurt James, enlist Gekko, look good to Winnie, gain self-respect and maybe even make a nice pile of money along the way. Meanwhile, Gekko also has an old axe to grind with James and will stop at nothing, including using his daughter, to get back on top. Then the story hurries along as more melodrama than expose.

A scene from Wall Street Money Never Sleeps

The premise behind the new movie is based on the 2008 financial crash, when the large banks faltered and required bailouts from the government.  “Greed is Good”, the line that was made famous by Gordon Gekko is still used, but this time he is doing it the “legal way”.

It’s a smart, glossy, beautifully photographed film that knows its way around the Street (Stone’s father was a stockbroker). Stone’s film is not only topical, it holds out lessons for the future too. For as Gekko tells us: Greed has not only become greedier, it has become legal now. More importantly, money is the `bitch that never sleeps….’

Is greed still good?

Gekko: “Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms — greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge — has marked the upward surge of mankind.”

Yes, the sequel has strength; Wall Street never sleeps, and Gordon Gekko still beckons.

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