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Money Monster
Genre Thriller
 
Review:

Money Monster is the latest film from Jodie Foster, who last acted in Elysium in 2013 and previously directed The Beaver in 2011. On the surface, it's a simple, somewhat claustrophobic thriller about a gunman who takes a financial show host hostage on live television in a bid to get real answers about a bad stock tip.

Apart from directorial credits for TV shows like Orange is the New Black and House of Cards, Jodie Foster's been reasonably quiet. While The Beaver was ambitious, leaning on its troubled yet talented star, it received mixed reviews. In order to get a fair trial, Foster has roped in the collective talents of Ocean's Eleven co-stars, George Clooney and Julia Roberts. The Hollywood darlings are a much safer bet than Mel Gibson and have the golden statuettes, as well as clean, bankable star power to prove it.

While dependable, Mr. Clooney has added a string of so-so film credits to his name since his supporting performance in Gravity. Money Monster continues his return to form after a rather self-deprecating yet sharp performance in in the Coen brothers's Hollywood send up, Hail, Caesar!. Instead of making fun of golden era Hollywood, he's lampooning financial infotainment with a smarmy, yet charming performance as Lee Gates.

Roberts has had a good run of form, if you can blank out Mother's Day, delivering solid performances in August: Osage County, The Normal Heart and Secret in their Eyes. Playing the show producer, Patty Fenn, she is relegated to more of a shadowy behind-the-scenes performance but manages to pull the strings and keep a believable "it's complicated" chemistry on the boil with Clooney.

These co-leads partner with Foster in creating a believable environment for the thriller to play out. The spanner is Unbroken star, Jack O'Connell, who stirs things up as the desperate ordinary guy, who was pushed to the edge in reaching for the ever-elusive Dream. The trio's charming-to-earnest performances anchor the film, allowing the audience to buy into the hostage drama and blend of timely entertainment.

Money Monster isn't trying to compete with films like The Big Short in terms of infotainment, but rather playfully riding on the crest of economic dissatisfaction and manic Wall Street fluctuations in a digital age. Part news media sendup and part potboiler thriller, Money Monster aims to build an entertaining and suspenseful film in the vein of Network, Inside Man and King of Comedy.

While it seems like there's an agenda, as you would expect with most Robert Redford films, the message is garbled and we are left reflecting on a David vs. Goliath match up. The man on the street is compelled to question, take action and not accept pithy answers, while the big business CEO is warned to take accountability, act with integrity or face the wrath of the people.

It's a timely financial crisis movie, which while entertaining also manages to wring out some poignant moments about human nature. *spoiler alert* Money Monster references the mining industry in South Africa, making it seem more socially-conscious when you consider the circumstances surrounding the Marikana massacre and themes relating to big business accountability.

Whether you sift for nuggets of truth or simply enjoy the twists-and-turns of a well-crafted and entertaining thriller, Money Monster is enjoyable, despite coming close to overbalancing into the ludicrous at times. Foster demonstrates that she has what it takes to succeed as a director and is aided by two solid performances by seasoned actors, George Clooney and Julia Roberts.

The bottom line: Enjoyable


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