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What We Know So Far: Lee Gates (George Clooney) is a stock advisor an a mega-popular television show called Money Monster who has a remarkable working relationship with his producer Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts). Live on the show one day, a young man named Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell) who has lost all his money following a bad timp takes the studio hostage and straps a bomb to Gates.
The Trailer: Official #1
Dan: I almost expected to hear Pacino yelling “Attica!” This new Jodie Foster flick feels like Dog Day Afternoon meets The Big Short. By that I mean, a televised hostage situation charged by social injustice (specifically, in the financial world). The most exciting bit of behind the scenes news is the style this story is filmed in. Foster presents the action in real time, a la television’s 24. This technique is sure to ramp up the excitement. The heavyweight acting is a big draw too. This action thriller stars Clooney and Roberts in role reversals, Julia is the hero and George is the damsel in distress. Jack O’Connell (the young rising star from ‘71 and Unbroken) is the man with a gun trying to make the wrong things right. This sort of stand up to corruption motive is understandable, allowing for shades of grey. At one point, Clooney tells O’Connell, “You came here for answers. You deserve answers.” Maybe Clooney’s character wants answers too, in regard to the corrupt financial world? He may feel guilty, like he’s contributing to the lies. Now, he wants to expose the truth on a worldwide platform (aligning the motives of the captive with his captor). With big name actors performing a simple plot, our enjoyment will boil down to execution, and Foster wisely opts for a real time scenario to freshen things up.
David: This is movie number four for Clooney and Roberts, having worked together on Ocean’s 11 & 12 and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. This one is clearly a sendup of sorts of CNBC’s ‘Mad Money’ financial show with Jim Cramer, though the similarities end there. With money and financial crisis themes a huge issue in Hollywood films these days, this one seems like a logical next step. Entirely fiction, the story looks to be a kind of standard potboiler thriller but with that cast and Jodie Foster directing, might have some real potential to go in a different direction. Like Dan mentioned above, the ‘real time’ storytelling could be a nice hook. The concept of a producer in the ear of a person on camera isn’t new in movies, with Broadcast News (1987) arguably being the apex. Roberts looks to be spending most of the film in a the control booth keeping Clooney’s character calm and delivering instructions. No doubt some secret language between them will be a major plot point. There is a lot of familiarity to the story though with the ‘bad guy’ actually being a good guy and the ‘victim’ using their power to turn things around. The police naturally want to take the guy down while the one’s who were originally the target of the bomb now try to protect him. While none of it will be fresh, at least there is hope it can be presented with something new. The story is in good hands but feels paint by numbers right now.
Dan Says: My Sneak Peek Moment comes early as Julia Roberts’ producer/director character takes charge of the hostage situation. She speaks into her mic, sending out a message to all of the crew with headsets, calmly laying out the plan, “Anyone who can get out – get out now. Do not look up. Do not make eye contact. Just go.” Not only does this establish that Roberts has some sort of control, but it also lets us know there will be some thrilling secrets for Clooney to keep. With a built-in way to communicate, he can talk with Roberts and (perhaps) the authorities. Not only do the cameras broadcast images of what’s going on within the television studio to the world, but also to the authorities. Once the “villain” finds out, there are several other back-up methods (like the teleprompter) that could allow for some intense sequences. I also really like how Roberts isn’t only concerned with Clooney’s safety, she’s also trying to save O’Connell. She doesn’t want to broadcast the murder of anyone.
While a hostage situation isn’t the most original storyline, what is? What makes this specific scenario more exciting is the televised aspect, as well as the motive of revealing corruption, rather than freeing a prisoner or demanding a billion dollars. On top of that, the talent involved helps elevate the story and characters. It will be compelling to see Roberts save Clooney in this new action thriller… in real time.
David Says: Dominic West plays a character named Walt Camby who is the CEO of a company stricken by the financial crisis who becomes exposed as the one who orchestrated its failure (perhaps leading to standoff at the TV station). In the film, he tries to prevent himself from being unearthed and ends up hiding in his airplane. My Sneak Peek Moment comes in the trailer when he is in a panic and shouting that nobody was asking questions before and that now “these guys” could expose everything (all with police pointing guns at him in the background). It looks like Camby will be the token Wall Street ‘monster’ and be the face to the enemy behind the massive financial disaster that left a lot of people in ruin. Every movie needs conflict, and while the bomb certainly makes for that, this movie is about the little guy losing everything, so we need the guy in the suit to take the fall.
Money Monster is set release in North America in May.
Alan DiFiore, Jim Kouf,
Julia Roberts, Caitriona Balfe, George Clooney