Review by: Erika Ashley
During the live broadcasting of a financial entertainment television show, hosted by Lee Gates, a troubled and angry investor and show viewer, Kyle Budwell, takes Lee hostage on air. In a previous episode Lee guarantees his viewers that buying shares of IBIS, an up and coming corporation, would be a safe bet and could earn investors hand over fistfuls of cash in return. However, due to an unforeseen “glitch” in their system, IBIS loses $800M overnight. Their CEO goes missing momentarily and as a result thousands of investors are turning out their pockets and find themselves empty handed. With every last penny of his money invested and lost, Kyle takes matters in his own hands and decides to punish Lee and IBIS live on air for the public to see.
It’s been a while since an adequate hostage film has hooked viewers from the beginning all the way through to the end. The film starts drawing you in with the developed characters like Lee Gates, played by George Clooney, whom is the most self-centered, pompous, egotistical, fast-talker this side of the Mississippi. His loving and devoted Show Producer – Petty Fenn, played by Julia Roberts, is his right hand, confidant, and ultimate best friend. She’s level headed and often times has to reel Lee in when he goes over the deep end on air and in life. The character development is surprisingly in depth and the viewer gets a true sense of these realistic individuals. Even the secondary supporting roles like the main Camera Man – Lenny, played by Lenny Venito, and Rookie Reporter – Ron Sprecher, played by Christopher Denham, have personalities that add to the story. The performances from the seasoned actors like Julia Roberts and George Clooney were on point, even though it will probably not earn them.
The plot of the film is also well developed but at times struggles due to what could potentially be heavy editing in post-production. The story seemed to be fluid from the beginning and even provided a few Easter egg foreshadowing. Spoiler - It wasn’t difficult to tell pretty early on that the IBIS CEO – Walt Camby, played by Dominic West, was the ultimate swindler and pulled a fast one. A few times characters continually repeated the phrase, “Follow the money,” which hinted almost from the very beginning that something doesn’t add up. There were a few instances where the story jumps forward two steps and leaves the viewer thinking they may have missed something that could have been a result of heavy editing. Also, about ¾ of the way through the film, Director - Jodie Foster must have been in a rush to wrap things up because the story seemed to take an unrealistic turn and things escalated pretty quickly. But, again it could have been sloppy editing that cut a scene forcing the story to lurch so far forward.
Other than the speedy wrap-up at the end the film was full of action and suspense. Viewers knew what would happen, but getting there was still fun. There were a few twists thrown in, but if you pay close attention at the beginning of the film you might be able to catch the little hidden foreshadowing that was provided. Along with the thrills and action the film was also surprisingly funny. Sprinkled with hilarious moments that eased the tension and they weren’t few and far between. It was refreshing to be immersed in the scene, not wanting to blink, but then the viewer is given a moment to catch their breath because of the much needed comic relief that was genuinely funny.
Overall, this film definitely has some teeth and will get us viewers through to Blockbuster Season. You won’t feel like a hostage with the runtime just over an hour and a half. The time flies by but the story could have been a little further developed given just ten more minutes. The humor and the action are solidly cohesive and brings the audience on a surprising and enjoyable wild ride.
Money Monster is rated R for language throughout, some sexuality and brief violence and has a 98-minute runtime.
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