Review: MONEY MONSTER (2016) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Monday, 30 May 2016

Review: MONEY MONSTER (2016)

Set over the course of a single day, MONEY MONSTER centres on a financial TV host Lee Gates (George Clooney), who is held hostage by an angry blue-collar worker named Kyle Budwell (Jack O'Connell) in the midst of a live show. Apparently, Kyle lost his entire US$60,000 savings on IBIS stock and blames Lee for making a false prediction in the first place.

REVIEW: At the first glance, it's hard not to get excited over Jodie Foster's latest thriller in MONEY MONSTER. It has an engaging hook of the 1970s-like hostage drama and media satire once made famous by the late great director Sidney Lumet in DOG DAY AFTERNOON (1975) and NETWORK (1976). In fact, Foster herself has stated her movie is heavily influenced by these two aforementioned genre classics. Next is, of course, the all-star pairing that reunites George Clooney and Julia Roberts since OCEAN'S ELEVEN (2001) and OCEAN'S TWELVE (2004). Not to mention the movie is visually slick while cinematographer Matthew Libatique made good use of the confined space within the television set to generate a palpable sense of tension and claustrophobia. Suffice to say, the early scenes where Kyle starts holding Lee hostage and making demands, are both riveting and pacey enough to keep the viewers intrigued. And for a while there, Foster seems to know a thing or two about making a competent piece of a thriller.

Unfortunately, the movie starts to wobble once the story expands with more plot elements such as the subsequent investigation of the IBIS' stock market crash as well as IBIS CEO's Walt Camby's (Dominic West) hidden agenda. The movie also tends to derail when Foster and her screenwriters (Jamie Linden, Alan DiFiore and Jim Kouf) attempt to inject satirical point-of-views relating to today's financial and media industries in general. Too bad the satire lacks the necessary bite to make the sense of irony work in its favour.

As for the cast, George Clooney displays his usual charismatic self in a role that obviously tailor-made for him to play an overconfident and smarmy individual. Although he is fun to watch, it's a shame his character as Lee Gates lacks the heart and soul to make him sympathetic. In an otherwise thankless role that could have happened to a lesser actor, Julia Roberts manages to defy the odds by putting a worthwhile performance as the TV director Patty Fenn who spends most of the time monitoring the screen and talking through an earpiece.

Best known for his major Hollywood role in Angelina Jolie's war drama UNBROKEN in 2014, Jack O'Connell holds his own against the two acting heavyweights as a desperate man seeking a vigilante-like justice against the corrupted system that caused him a huge financial loss. Irish actress Caitriona Balfe of Starz's Outlander, in the meantime, gives a solid support as the IBIS CCO Diane Lester. Finally, Emily Meade almost steals the entire show as Kyle's disgruntled pregnant girlfriend. In one particular scene where the police brought her in to talk some senses to Kyle, the situation turns something radically different than what you normally expect from a typical hostage drama.

Jodie Foster's timely corporate thriller is slickly made but struggles to find the balance between a hostage drama and a satirical jab on the financial and media manipulation. 

* This review is written courtesy from Sony Pictures Malaysia press screening *

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