Cine Reviews: ‘Money Monster’ (2016)

Money Monster is a 2016 crime-drama-thriller film directed by Jodie Foster. The film stars George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O’Conell and Dominic West.

In the film, Financial TV host Lee Gates and his producer Patty are put in an extreme situation when an irate investor takes over their studio.

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Money Monster begins on a slow, quite uninteresting manner as it brings up exposition, but thankfully it manages to immediately become a little fascinating as we enter George Clooney’s character Lee Gates as soon as we skip past the financial/stock market babble. In this characterization, Clooney bags a load of charisma like he always does, and he almost becomes a satirical caricature of the people we see on TV who we think we trust. A theme wrapped in realism gets wrapped around him, and it is where the film becomes a little more provocative as it strikes powerful ideas into the viewers’ minds. Adding up to that is Clooney’s acting that seems to be doing a commendable job with him making us feel what he feels externally and internally. While it is not too powerful, these themes get expressed with a little impact to leave to the viewer by effectively mixing entertainment and tension in its direction. However the entertainment factor that it reaches for also meant the film going for a clean direction in stressing out such a gritty, realistic and sophisticated topic. How clean? There are some attempts at humor that are quite amusing, and while they do work to blend in with the tone that it goes for, they also lessen the amount of tension that we get to feel authentically.

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But in spite of all that, they become quite forgivable for sticking true to its characters whose human sides we get to feel. Narrative wise, it is surprisingly fresh-but not too different to claim it as completely different from other newsroom features as it still lacks a firm layer of intensity. In terms of execution, it is excellent. But to further admit its shortages of total brilliance, there are some things in it that could’ve used a little more refinement. Because of all that, it feels as if it is trying to be yet another average thriller. Some of the efforts that it pulls off to reach a wider and more general audience meant the lack of sublimity-losing some of the nerve-wracking  feelings of intensity that had been projected onto some of its finest moments.

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The external scenes match up well with the internal scenes, and they form a solid connection with one another just as we figure out what’s happening-they are just as intense, but unfortunately there are just some things in it that needed a little clarification to become totally comprehensible. Maybe it’s just me, but I’ll be honest here. That’s how I saw it and based from my experience, I felt that the film should’ve explained the financial babble without being somehow vague. In all truthfulness, the narrative is a little weak, but fortunately, Jodie Foster’s direction saved it from becoming a totally run-of-the-mill feature.  But then again, we have its fast-pacing to thank for as it speeds up everything in the storyline to keep us quite engaged.

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Jodie Foster’s direction saw some scene-stealing performances, and of course I am referring to Jack O’Connell who had the capability to steal the spotlight from his veteran co-stars. What we get to see in his performance is a sense of humanity, as if he speaks right to us about a serious topic. The onscreen connection that he forms with George Clooney is something worth watching, and it makes clear the themes of fraudulence that the film presents as we see that occur in them. While O’Connell’s yelling may sound too much for the ears, his vicious speaking voice that has noteworthy things to say is enough to deem his performance as outstanding. The dialogue is good enough yet one could still imagine the betterment that other writers would bring if it was written by such minds that think superbly. As for the film as whole, thee performances alone could make up for what’s missing. It is enough reason for one to see it, but the hour and a half of gripping intensity that we undergo is definitely even more so. Most specially knowing that it packs a small yet amazing cast and a story that tackles serious, heinous financial topics in such an entertaining, thrilling manner for the mass to witness. Directed by Jodie Foster, Money Monster holds some tension and a genuinely intriguing premise-keeping itself entertaining and quite different. Even if it lacked the guts and grit to stay completely grounded to its suspenseful, realistic themes nonetheless, it still becomes a solid financially-topical thriller thanks solely to a cast that bears amusing performances despite having shortcomings in a uniquely fresh narrative.

Rating:

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* Money Monster opens in Philippine cinemas nationwide on May 25. Distributed by Columbia Pictures Philippines.

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