Jodie Foster’s fourth film behind the camera and this time it’s focusing on Lee Gates (George Clooney) a financial TV host, who is taken hostage by a victim of some bad advice, determined to get answers on what went wrong. Expectations are reasonably high on this one with not only Foster and Clooney but screen legend Julia Roberts as producer Patty and up and comer Jack O’Connell as the distraught Kyle, making another Hollywood outing, but does it deserve such a mixed reception?
One of the clear highlights is teaming up Clooney and Roberts, who obviously have a great repartee and the fact that as an audience we know this beforehand, it heightens the relationship between their two characters. The primary characters themselves are great to watch, they each have their own issues and that’s clear with how they’re played, and they all get their moments to explore those issues which is interesting to watch. Some of Clooney’s performance does come across over the top and sleazy but that feels fairly fitting for his character. Whereas Roberts’ performance is much more understated, she keeps charge of things but is more of a strong presence by her voice than physical acting. The choice of O’Connell for a guy from any part of New York can’t have been an easy choice to sell, we Brits can’t always do the most convincing accents but he has such talent and actually manages to do an accent which is passable, with a character that has such raw emotion to let out, he does a great job. Our supporting actors are varied, mostly because of the size of the parts they have to play, Dominic West as Wall Street bigwig is a fit but his appearance is fairly small, whereas lesser known Irish actress Caitriona Balfe (known to Outlander fans) gives a pleasant and interesting performance. Then there’s those that bring that extra humour to the film and become quite loveable characters, Lenny the cameraman played by Lenny Venito and Ron Sprecher played by Christopher Denham.
The story itself is quite the surprise, it has such a mixture of elements its appeal is fairly widespread, what begins feeling more like a drama then ventures into thriller territory while keeping one foot on crime and a hand on plenty of comedy, it’s a veritable twister game of film genres. With the script being written by Jamie Linden (We Are Marshall, Dear John, 10 Years) that’s where the surprise gets even bigger, because this is a massive leap above the rest of the work he’s done so far, creating an utterly gripping and entertaining film with some great dialogue, alongside Alan DiFiore (Grimm, The Bridge) and Jim Kouf (Grimm, Rush Hour). The use of sporadically stepping outside of the main characters bubble and taking a look at the outside world’s reaction to the events occurring, as well as being an apt look at today’s society it also quite well increases the feel of audience inclusion. The aspect of comedy does really well to add another element of entertainment to elevate the main story, which itself is great to watch but those funny moments keep it from getting a little too serious. It also manages to keep a good pace, which considering the majority of the film takes part in a TV studio without really going anywhere is impressive, but a lot of that has to do with the great dialogue and chemistry between the actors.
Money Monster is slick, clever, honest and keeps things surprisingly grounded for a film with such big names, not only is it a fun watch but the story will keep you captivated and in an unusual turn will keep you rooting for the hostages as well as the hostage taker. Though these stories may tend to follow a pattern and you may be able to predict the ending well before you get there, it still has some surprises to throw your way. It has received a mixed reception but don’t let that prevent you from seeing what is actually one of May’s most entertaining films.