By Bryce Van Kooten

Just over twenty-four hours ago, I went into a movie I was legitimately looking forward to. It was called Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and I was excited at the possibility of a new sequel in the life of one of my favorite villains, Gordon Gekko. As the lights dimmed and my seat reclined, I quickly realized that “Money Never Sleeps” could just as easily have been inserted for “Something Completely Different and Worse”.

Let me just be clear right from the get-go: I’m not in the business of overtly ripping movies I don’t like. I understand that many folks will love what I don’t and vice versa. I find little joy in publically tearing apart a movie simply because I “didn’t like it”. That’s what the public is for. And they’re quite good at it. But a movie that is lazy, thoughtless and illegitimately far-fetched? A movie that blatantly ruins a classic? A movie void of reason and reality!? I’ll go public with that, for sure.

Wall Street 2 was the exact opposite of everything it heralded in its trailer. It wasn’t flashy, it wasn’t a continuation of the saga of the infamous Gordon Gekko, it wasn’t even interesting. What the original Wall Street had going for it wasn’t originality, but character. Gekko was a true villain, committing, as he calls them, “victimless crimes”, and thus, worthy of true opposition. This one picks up with Gekko finally making his way out of jail and into the public once more. Then we leave him for the next half hour. What? Why? Many claimed that this classic film should be left alone — Gekko is in jail, move on. I was on the fence with agreeing with the masses then. And I officially signed my letter of intent about 4 minutes into the movie last night.

Oliver Stone:
I think the guy is washed up. Actually, I know he is. Here’s his last seven (yes, SEVEN) movies: Comandante, America Undercover, Alexander, World Trade Center, W., South of the Border, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. How ask yourself this: How many people saw them? How good do you remember them being? There’s your answer.

Oliver Stone is washed up. He can stop now.

The Script:
It was a complete and total wreck. I’ll give you the highlights:
The movie opens to two separate flashes within minutes: “22 years later” and “7 years later”. We’re not off to a good start at this point. Sigh.
Within moments, we’re thrust into an environment (what reality is this?) where 20-something “Caddie Broker” (and sidekick to the President of the equivalent of Lehman Bros) is chillin’ with his mentor, Louis Zabel (Frank Langella) getting handed checks for over a millions dollars because “it all ends soon, kiddo.” What? Why? How? The next scene, Zabel is being disbanded corporate-killer, Bretton James (Josh Brolin) and loses so much hope that he subsequently jumps in front of the train tracks and kills himself. I know this sounds morbid, but this was the best part of the movie and the only part I actually started to care about.
The end of Act 2 sports one of the longest running clichés in film history: “We Don’t Have Enough To Thrust Us Into Act 3, So… She’s Gotta Be Pregnant.”
In the matter of a couple weeks/months, Jake Moore (LaBeouf) goes through 10 major changes. A couple of which are so cringe-worthy it’s tough to watch and others are laughable.

  1. Zabel’s young apprentice to getting a check for over a million dollars.
  2. Then loses that money as his mentor (Langella) commits suicide. This little twerp LaBeouf is going to avenge his death.
  3. He deceives the billionaire-president, Bretton James of rival brokerage firm, Churchill Schwartz out of $125 million.
  4. But then get hired by James, in his home (inner circle of a fortune 500 company in 24 hours! At 20-something!).
  5. Then, they race each other (on Ducati bikes) on the Long Island back roads.
  6. After only a couple days of knowing him then asked to become James’ protégé.
  7. Then Moore is fired. Same scene. But we’re not done yet.
  8. Then he single-handedly screws his fiancé out of $100 million (not making this up) after promising the money to “Doc” — his “crazy genius fusion scientist”.
  9. He flies to London to confront Gekko about thieving the money. Gekko won’t give it back – surprise! But wait!
  10. Gekko gives it back and apologizes to his daughter for taking it. Everything is better. Kiss. Hug. Cry. The credits are about to roll, so hurry.

The Wall Street Reality:
If you’re going to tell a Wall Street story, at least give it to me realistically. Small runts like LaBeouf don’t make their way to the top of billion-dollar corporations in hours; literally, hours. Presidents like Bretton James don’t deal with petty Alternate Energy portfolio cases. Failing, drowning, dying and horrifically irresponsible CEO’s like Louis Zabel aren’t saints because they’ve worked hard their whole life and they sure don’t give out million dollar checks to people they like. How did they get there anyway? Frankly, the movie did not have a clear villain. It took one of the coolest in history (Gekko) and turned him into a weak secondary character. Either give the movie to Gekko (I wish they would have), or tell the story about Jake Moore. Or Bretton James. Choose one. You can’t have 12 minute Federal Reserve scenes talking about what we already know and expect your “signature” floating, roaming, spinning camera shots to save it. The only thing they’re good for is making us ill. Plus, Michael Bay does them better.

Shia’s Mom (Susan Sarandon):
She literally did not need to be in the movie. Not for one, single, solitary reason.

The Campiness, Corniness and Silliness:
A couple shots in this film remind me of an SNL skit. I say that in all seriousness. I felt like they were trying to make me cringe or laugh. Either way, it worked. Moore’s awkward kissing atop Zabel’s head after he gets a million-dollar check. The shadow of your dead mentor appearing on the bathroom mirror (just to remind the audience who EXACTLY is being avenged, here) and one of the most poorly casted main characters in recent memory. Almost as bad as Colin Farrel as Alexander, though not quite. That’s no slight to LaBeouf, honestly, the guy does the BEST he can with some terrible lines. And even then, not half-bad. The fact is: LaBeouf looks 22, and that’s a problem if you’re trying to push around the corporate world.  If Transformers were coming out of the woods, he’d be fine. Yelling at billionaires, it just makes you laugh.

In a world of repackaging culture and sequel’ing-out movies, I’m going to try and stick to my early suspicions. Leave well enough alone. Go make more Inception’s. And Juno’s. And Wall Street #1’s. And if I haven’t been clear enough — don’t see this movie. Save your time. And while you’re out there, spend the money you would have spent and ask Oliver Stone out for a cup of coffee and break all this news to him gently.