2010 Certificate: 12

Synopsis

Michael Douglas is back in business as stock market pirate Gordon Gecko in Oliver Stone's follow-up to his 1987 tale of corporate greed and yuppie excess. But can a Gecko change his spots? Idealistic trader Jacob Moore (Shia Laboeuf) is about to find out when he asks the old fraud to help bring down Wall Street's most ruthless predator (Josh Brolin). Unfortunately, Moore is engaged to Gecko's daughter (Carey Mulligan), and she hates the old man's guts. Stone pulls off the skulduggery in typically bullish style, while the sterling cast maintain a high rate of interest.

Director

  • Oliver Stone

Cast

  • Michael Douglas

  • Shia LaBeouf

  • Josh Brolin

  • Carey Mulligan

  • Susan Sarandon

  • Frank Langella

Review

So - is greed good? It's a question Gordon Gecko had eight years to mull over while languishing in jail for committing every crime in the trading rulebook.

Fast forward to 2008 and it seems the poacher has turned gamekeeper, peddling his revised answer to adoring, money-minded audiences as part of his public renaissance.

Among those seeking guidance from the erstwhile god of greed is Jacob Moore (Laboeuf), who's a complete banker, but one with a big heart and an eco-friendly soul. You know the sort.

After seeing his dear old mentor (Frank Langella) brought down by rumours circulated by devious hedge fund investor Bretton James (Brolin), Jacob could do with Gordy's advice.

He uses his fiancée Winnie (Mulligan) to clinch the deal, since she's the daughter Gecko hasn't seen for years. But since she wants to keep it that way, underhand tactics are going to be required.

The market's barely opened and already Stone is up to his credit limit in Shakespearean subterfuge.

Tragic father-figures, wayward fathers, bitter daughters, reckless mothers, feckless sons, all gnarled up in star-crossed romances, tragedies, retribution, redemption, deception and a motorbike race. It's like King Lear with Kawasakis.

Anyone whose financial know-how stops at a few bars of "Go Compare" may struggle to follow the plot's finer points.

No matter - you'll get the gist as Stone rattles through the complexities with loads of zippy graphics and mini-lectures on everything from basic economics to creating clean energy by fusion, helped by a script that contains enough metaphors to fill a metaphor megastore.

In other overkill, the subplot involving Jacob's spendthrift mummy Susan Sarandon is more bail-out than bonus. And there haven't been this many renditions of Manhattan's skyline since A-Ha's first world tour.

Sarandon's squawking Noo Yawker aside, the performances are spot-on, Mulligan making the most of her first major Hollywood role after the Oscar nominated success of An Education and Brolin showing he can generate genuine screen presence from the most two-dimensional of roles.

Yet there's no escaping the feeling that this is less a sequel than a case of déjà vu, with Laboeuf filling Charlie Sheen's shoes as Gecko's latest naive protégé and Langella replacing Sheen Sr as the morally upstanding patriarch of the piece.

But from the moment he steps out of the slammer, there's no doubt who's the real daddy here. Older, wiser, and as slippery as ever, Douglas doesn't miss a trick in completing the resurrection of one of cinema's most glorious bastards.

Two Oscars for Gordon? It's not out of the question. He makes Wall Street 2 worth the investment alone.

Elliott Noble