Friday 8th October saw the UK release of the sequel to Oliver Stone's 1987 movie Wall Street which starred Michael Douglas in his Oscar winning role as Gordon Gekko.
I reviewed the sequel Money Never Sleeps for the BBC Today programme and BBC World Service and you can hear the reviews here:
BBC World Service (commences at 1437 BST)
What did I think of the movie? It was a bit corny. I will try not to spoil the ending for you, but in my view one of the differences between original movies and sequels and re-makes is the nature of the ending. My favourite movie is The Thomas Crown Affair. In the 1968 version starring Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway, there is an unhappy ending. Dunaway, the insurance investigator, sells McQueen, the rich financier and part time bank robber, out to the cops. He sees this coming and he is last seen leaving alone on a plane to Switzerland. In the 1999 sequel starring Rene Russo and Pierce Brosnan, she also reports him to the cops. He sees this coming and he is last seen leaving alone on a plane to Switzerland. In the 1999 sequel starring Rene Russo and Pierce Brosnan, she also reports him to the cops. He also senses she will do this and makes good his escape, but when she leaves on the plane, he is in the seat behind her, ready with a handkerchief and a kiss (despite the seat belt sign being on). Who would go to that much trouble for a woman who had just tried to get you a custodial sentence? Needless to say I prefer the unhappy original.
The symbolism in the Wall Street sequel can also be a bit too obvious with the images of children blowing bubbles at the beginning and the end to represent the asset bubbles which have arisen in the economy. And the hero Jacob Moore (Shia LaBeouf) is far too concerned by do-gooding in his quest to raise money for his alternative energy company to ring true as a Wall Streeter.
Oliver Stone has some good material available from the actual Credit Crunch to fuel his plot. His failing bank Keller Zable is a thinly disguised Bear Stearns.
There are some good cameo roles. Some are from the original Wall Street movie. Charlie Sheen once more appears as Bud Fox, who in the original wore a wire and entrapped Gekko for insider dealing.
There are also cameos from some real Wall Street characters. Look out for Warren Buffett; Jim Cramer from Mad Money; Nouriel Roubini, the economist who predicted the Credit Crunch; and Jim Chanos the short seller from the hedge fund Kynikos which is based in the same office as Fundsmith in London.
My favourite character is the one played by Eli Wallach as a harbinger of doom and eminence grise called Julie (!) Steinhardt. Wallach is 94 and his other movies have included The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and The Magnificent Seven. It's quite a nice little touch that the main character, Jacob Moore's ringtone is Enrico Morricone's theme tune for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
Is there a serious message in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps? I think there are three given by Gekko:
1. The "remedies" applied since the Credit Crunch will sow the seeds of the next bubble and cause an even greater crash in due course, just as the Fed's bailout of the markets by cutting rates after the Dotcom bubble burst helped to stoke the credit bubble and subsequent housing crash.
2. Alternative energy investment will become a bubble. Certainly plenty of it totally destroys capital or is even fraudulent. Take a look at the percentage of energy delivered by the wind farms which are taking over the UK landscape, and the need to keep parallel generating capacity for days when the wind doesn't blow; the scams in carbon trading (see Harper's Magazine: "Conning the climate" February 2010); or those Spanish solar generators which were generating subsidised electricity at night for evidence of this.
3. Time is more important than money.
In my view, Gekko is right about all three.