Money Monster Is A Siege Movie For Mom (And A Pretty Good One)
The first 10 minutes of director Jodie Foster’s Money Monster feature George Clooney on the can, George Clooney being told to ingest a bag of male genitalia, and George Clooney ordering a junior producer on his character’s TV show to go test out some new erectile dysfunction cream in his office. The cream works so well that it nearly causes the producer to miss the on-set hostage crisis that’s about to ensue. The movie, surprisingly, works almost as well. Bet you didn’t see that coming (especially after The Beaver).
Like recent release Green Room, Money Monster is a siege movie. Unlike the excellent Green Room, this one is a siege movie you can take your mom to. Though the script works hard to make it obvious that Clooney’s character is detestable, even deserving of the treatment he’s receiving at the hands of an enraged hostage taker, you’re never really worried that the explosives-wired vest he’s squeezed into is going to be put to use. Because no Hollywood executive in their right mind would let George Clooney and Julia Roberts (in the role of the show’s director) be blown up on screen. Even after this:
The unlikeability of Clooney’s character Lee, combined with the recent financial crisis and the growing gap between the poor and the astronomically, inexplicably rich is likely to place audience sympathies squarely in the corner of parcel-delivery-guy-with-a-gun, Kyle, played convincingly by Jack O’Connell. Kyle has lost his entire life savings on a stock Lee recommended but the company behind the stock, Ibis, has lost or stolen or mismanaged more than Kyle’s $60k. They’ve got $800 million unaccounted for. Kyle knows he can’t have his money back, what he wants instead are answers.
We find out early on that the company’s CEO has gone MIA, tipping us off to the fact that the reason behind the missing money isn’t a computer glitch they’re blaming on some faceless quant. (That’s industry speak for quantitative analyst—the person who wrote the algorithm responsible for the extremely profitable high-frequency trading that Ibis has been using to the same effect as that aforementioned ED cream, only on their shareholders.) There’s something else going on, and if Lee doesn’t want Kyle to detonate his outerwear, he’s going to have to figure out what it is.
Foster’s attempt to castigate the financial industry, the talking head media that covers it, and America’s weird drive to take a selfie with literally anyone of note (including a guy wearing a bomb) isn’t an outright success. While Money Monster lands its punches, including a literal one thrown by Clooney at the jaw of Dominic West’s sleazeball CEO, the aim is at low-hanging fruit. It’s the performances and the unexpected humour (much of it gallows) that pull everything together.
Money Monster is in theatres May 13. Watch the trailer below.