Money Monster – Fun Thriller is an Almost-Masterpiece
Money Monster is a thoroughly entertaining little pic starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts. It is also the Directorial high-point (thus far) of Jodie Foster, better known for her acting roles in films such as The Accused (1988) and The Silence of the Lambs (1991).
When Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell) loses everything in a failed investment, he takes over a television studio which hosts the financial advice program, Money Monster. Budwell blames the host of Money Monster Lee Gates (Clooney) for losing his life’s savings. Julia Roberts plays the shows Producer Patty Fenn. With Gates forced to wear a bomb-vest and Budwell’s mental state rapidly unravelling, the trio begin to uncover a conspiracy of fraud underlying the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars, including Budwell’s life savings.
The film is fast-paced, but at times makes certain leaps which aren’t really explained. Do we accept as coincidence that this emotionally crippled protagonist (Budwell) just happens to be right – even though he has no evidence or inside knowledge to support his paranoid claims? And Producer Fenn jumps onto the conspiracy bandwagon very quickly and remarkably easily for somebody facing imminent death. There is also the brief presence of some interesting side characters – the Icelandic hackers (Darri Ingolfsson and Svavar James Kristjansson) and the South Korean developer, Won Joon (Aaron Yoo), who play an integral role in uncovering the conspiracy, but whose presence seems more a matter of convenience and lack the kindof back-story that might have provided considerable depth to this film. Given the fast-paced nature of the story, it might have been prudent to have covered a little more of their own stories and how they relate back to the overall story as a whole.
Still, these complaints are afterthoughts. Money Monster contains moments of humour, an eccentric performance from Clooney, a sympathetic performance from O’Connell, and a downplayed but pivotal role from Roberts. The trio make it work, and if you can overlook the plot inconsistencies, it’s a fun but poignant movie.