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Money Monster (2016)

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Jodie Foster takes her place the directorial chair for this (largely) self-contained thriller. Lee Gates (George Clooney) advises the country on the buying and selling of shares on his flashy TV show until he's taken hostage live by bankrupt loose canon Kyle Budwell (Jack O'Connell). His Ocean’s Eleven partner in crime, Julia Roberts, plays his long suffering director Patty Fenn.

The trailer for this film had caught my eye a while back. Mixed reviews had put me off (it currently sits at 55% on Rotten Tomatoes) but when I found myself with a free afternoon on my hands, I ended up grabbing a showing in what I imagine will be towards the end of it’s run in cinemas.
For large parts I was pleasantly surprised with this film. Foster builds the tension extremely well as Jack O’Connell’s character locks Clooney in the studio at gunpoint. He’s forced to offer an explanation over poor financial advice he offered on his show that has hit the down and out O’Connell’s character hard financially. Jack O’Connell’s star is continuing to rise, and he does the wounded yet still very dangerous thing really well here. His grievances with a world that looks after those at the top, while dumping on those at the bottom is something many will sympathise with… even if he goes about tackling it the wrong way. Clooney and Roberts are really good throughout too, and it was fun to see that chemistry still work via a microphone and earpiece (even more impressive when you learn that they didn’t film a lot of their scenes together at all due to scheduling reasons). Both find themselves putting their presenting and directorial skills to use as stand in negotiators. When the film sticks to the gunpoint interrogation it works really well and I really found myself on edge to see where O’Connell’s character was going with it.
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Unfortunately it’s there that the movie should have stayed more on. There are cut-aways to company boardrooms and the police response outside, and unfortunately each contain what I thought were a couple of wooden performances, dodgy dialogue, and they threatened to stutter the pace of the rest of the movie. It lost it’s way a bit in the final third, and Foster’s shoehorning in of unsubtle messages about the media and YouTube/Twitter culture really jarred for me. Some of the decision making by characters, and the public reactions to the live broadcast of what is a life and death situation just didn’t seem realistic. These satirical nods did bring some laughs from others in the cinema with me, but just wasn’t in keeping with the first two acts.
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Although it loses focus in the final third, and the decision making and reactions to things are a bit off for me, I thought this was good fun and it never dragged during its short run time. It seemed unsure what sort of film it wanted to be, but it was at it’s best when it stuck to the pressure of the TV show studio. I couldn’t help but think throughout that it was just a poor man’s Inside Man though, which actually stars Jodie Foster herself. Super tense, with quality twists and turns throughout, Spike Lee also manages to juggle a great story with a few interesting things to say on society. If you haven’t seen that, then I strongly recommend. Shame Money Monster couldn’t also hold it’s bottle.

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