MONEY MONSTER    
Columbia Pictures
Reviewed by: Harvey Karten, Shockya
Grade: B+
Director:  Jodie Foster
Written by: Alan DiFiore, Jamie Linden, Jim Kouf
Cast: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O’Connell, Dominic West
Screened at: Regal E-Walk, NYC, 5/11/16
Opens: May 13, 2016

Starting at a furious pace, one likely to garner Nielsen ratings through the roof, Lee Gates discusses the financial scene like no Wall Street pundit  Starting with a brief segment of hip-hop in which he joins with a couple of pros, he stands in front of a row of huge TV screens which are themselves as nervous as a caffeine-driven day trader—the hotshots who don’t hold stocks for years like your grandparents did but might buy and sell a given company in a matter of minutes.  All the technology that a news program uses today is here and then some–a dazzling array of graphs and street scenes that are a testament to the fine work of the picture’s graphics designers and production values people.

Toward the beginning of the day’s account, Lee, whose earphones puts him in instant touch with his director Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts), has an uninvited guest.  Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell), pretending to deliver a package, bolts onto the stage, pulls a gun, straps a bomb to Lee’s vest, and begins a tirade—after insisting that Patty put back the cameras to hear his manifesto.  He insists that he is not the criminal but rather the people who run the companies’ finances, and Lee in particular for encouraging his viewers to invest in a tech company that went south.  Kyle at first listens to Lee’s suggestion that he can restore the $60,000 that Kyle lost thanks to Lee’s bad advice, even accusing him—and proving this on the TV screen—that he had called that company “as safe as the banks.”  Minutes later, he no longer wants the money but prefers an apology.

As people throughout New York, then the U.S., and then the rest of the world see their own newscasters stop what they’re doing to photograph what looks more like a reality show than a financial news program, Lee manages to convince the distraught man that there is something rotten in the company’s chief officer, Walt Camby.  Kyle demands to speak to him in order to expose him as a crook.

Crowd scenes abound, particularly on the streets of New York as Lee and Kyle head out to meet this CEO followed by the entire New York police force and half of the people previous strolling casually through New York’s financial district.  Director Jodie Foster, using Alan DiFiore, Jamie Linden and Jim Louf’s darkly humorous and always suspense-inducing script, ensures that the audience will not be allowed to take a breath, though Julia Roberts as the newscaster’s director doesn’t have all that much to do other than sitting by the cameras.  Kyle Budwell takes principal honors as a convincing guy, the sort who’d vote for Bernie Sanders, and who represents the views of people who are not convinced that the Republican front-runner can be “amazing.”

Rated R.  90 minutes.  © Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online

Story – B
Acting – B+
Technical – A-
Overall – B+

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By Harvey Karten

Harvey Karten is the founder of the The New York Film Critics Online (NYFCO) an organization composed of Internet film critics based in New York City. The group meets once a year, in December, for voting on its annual NYFCO Awards.

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