I never thought the original 'Wall Street' would have a sequel, but after the collapse of the American financial system a few years ago, this was the perfect time to bring back Gordon Gekko and his conniving ways.
Michael Douglas is the best actor out there for a role like this. Roger Ebert has said a few times that Douglas is at his best when he's playing a "sinner," and it's true. These are the kinds of roles he embodies and thrives in. Even his earlier role this year in 'Solitary Man' was the same type of fractured, unrepentant soul that he embodies so well.
'Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps' begins with Gekko being released from his long stint in federal prison. He was sent away for the crimes and insider trading he committed in the first film. Now he's getting out. It's interesting to see how much the world has changed since Gekko was handed his prison sentence. Before he leaves prison he collects the personal effects that he had when he first entered, one of them being that humongous brick-like cell phone that seemed so cool back in the day (at least it's smaller than the lunchbox-sized cell phone in the original 'Lethal Weapon!').
Since Gekko's incarceration, his daughter has grown up and now runs a left-leaning website. Her name is Winnie and she's played by the ever-adorable Carey Mulligan. Winnie hates her father and wants nothing to do with him, since he spent most of her childhood trying to get as rich as he possibly could. The drive to make more and more money, outweighed his parental instincts.
Winnie is dating Jake Moore (Shia LaBeouf), an up-and-coming Wall Street player who specializes in alternative energy companies. Even though Winnie hates what her father became during his time on Wall Street she's chosen to date someone of the same ilk. Maybe she's looking for someone like her father, or just merely naïve in thinking that Jake will be different.
Jake isn't different. He wants to accumulate wealth just as badly as the next guy. When he's handed a bonus check worth almost one and a half million dollars, he goes out and buys an expensive engagement ring and goes out on the town. Money makes people do strange things, but mostly it makes people want more of it. That's Jake's downfall. He turns around and puts the rest of his bonus money into the stock of the company he works for, then the bottom falls out of the business.
Stone paints a picture of a Wall Street, the real Wall Street, where financial wizards move money from place to place without actually taking part in the production of any sort of product. It's almost as if money to them is some imaginary force that resides in digital form on computers and transfers from place to place with no one harmed in the process. Of course, when every big business is playing to the demands of the Street, and lay-offs and outsourcing come at the cost of employees in the pursuit of higher and higher stock prices, this simply isn't true. Then there's the business of Wall Street's flat-out gambling and hedged-bets, but that's the flip-side to this story!
In desperation, Jake gets in touch with Gordon Gekko at a speaking engagement for his new book. Right away you can tell Gekko's wheels are turning. How can he use his daughter's boyfriend as leverage to get back into her good graces? He never thinks about things on a personal level, it's all about him, and he's all about business.
In the end it's all business to everyone. No one cares what happens to the blue-collar worker who goes to work everyday and has to fight to put food on the table for his family. Money isn't imaginary to those people. It's very real, and very scarce. While Stone becomes almost too obsessed with his strange cut-away diagrams that show how fusion energy works, his portrayal of Wall Street is bleak and unwavering. He's still as preachy as ever, which may turn some people off, but you should know now what to expect from an Oliver Stone movie. They're certainly never boring! Still, he's able to weave together a tale of the financial collapse, and is able to show not only how it affects companies and their bottom lines, but also how love of money affects personal relationships, and how it can so often destroy them.
'Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps' has been given the 1080p treatment with an AVC encode. For the most part, 'Wall Street' looks fantastic.
The film's strong primary colors are as vibrant and lively as you will see on the format. From the lush greens of Central Park to the cold blues of the inner office workspaces, this transfer is brimming with sturdy color. Detail is amped up and closeups provide ample detail like pores, individual facial hairs, and freckles. Tiny tears welling up in Mulligan's eyes can be seen glinting and reflecting the light. It's a very subtle detail, but the fact that you can see it clearly is fantastic. Blacks offer a sense of depth and dimensionality to the film. There's never a time where shadows crushed any of the detail, instead they enhanced it, making darker scenes just as enjoyable to watch. The entire image has a very filmic look to it, which adds to the overall visual enjoyment. The only technical anomaly I noticed were spots of aliasing here and there during the wide shots of New York. Banding, and blocking were nowhere to be found. The image is clear from any sort of debris, flecks, or spots.
Anyone who picks up this Blu-ray will be extremely pleased with this video presentation.
'Wall Street's 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio presentation won't blow the roof off your house. It isn't a very lively audio mix, but that's because the movie is much more about the talking than action.
Still, as a far as talkative dramas go, 'Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps' has a few tricks up its sleeve. First off, dialogue is presented cleanly and clearly through the center channel, there are a few lines of whispered dialogue that get lost. You may find yourself straining to hear what 95 year-old Eli Wallach is saying some of the time. Surrounds are actually very lively, as the busy stock trading rooms clamor with activity. Phones ring and people chatter all around you, so you feel like you're sitting center stage watching these people trade stocks all day. LFE is called upon a few times to produce bass for the musical soundtrack and the roar of Ducati engines. It isn't engaged a lot, but when it is, the LFE is deep and resonant.
While Oliver Stone's direction has almost gone off the rails with all the superfluous stuff he adds in here and there, 'Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps' is still an entertaining and frustrating portrayal of Wall Street and the money-grubbing bankers and traders that run it. Stone does a great job portraying what the pursuit of money does to an individual's relationships, even if he does end up in "sappy ending" territory. The audio and video are about as good as they could be for a talkative drama such as this one. There's a healthy amount of special features and Stone's commentary will satiate his hardcore fans. This one comes recommended.