Money Monster: Not Every Conspiracy Is A Theory

Lee Gates (George Clooney) is a television presenter of a highly rated financial programme. In his show, he offers tips to money-obsessed viewers. One day, one viewer takes his advice and loses everything. Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell) loses all his money due to one of Gates’ tips. Things go from good to bad in a matter of seconds when Budwell manages to get into the studio and take Gates hostage at gunpoint. A blood boiling standoff ensues between Gates and Budwell is being broadcast to millions of people worldwide and Budwell orders Gates find out what happened. The answer leads to a conspiracy at the epicentre of the 21st century’s stock markets with corruption and corporate greed being somewhat the reason why he was one of many people lost so much money.

Director Jodie Forster (Silence Of The Lambs) has created a winner here. More films like this need to be made. Films like this need to be made because they depict real problems about things we can relate to. As much as I love the comic book movie movement, we need movies about the hard truths of our world more than we need men and women jumping around sparkly spandex. Films like Money Monster, films like Spotlight, films like Trumbo, films like The Big Short. They actually happened. Money Monster isn’t based on fact but the common denominator is corruption within moneyed-up corporations and that’s something we’ve all seen. But it’s also comedic that many people take economic advice from jester-like presenters like Lee Gates than real analysts. Finance is just one more corrupt branch of the entertainment industry tree.

Lee Gates (Clooney) is pretty much a performing monkey. (Money Monster, Sony Pictures Entertainment)

Lee Gates (Clooney) is pretty much a performing monkey.
(Money Monster, Sony Pictures Entertainment)

With all reality shows, there are fans that take everything that’s said as gospel. Kyle Budwell does exactly that and loses $60,000 in the process. This amount of money seems like a decent amount of money for the average Joes like you and I, but to someone like Gates, that’s merely pocket change. Budwell makes this investment in Ibis Capital on the recommendation of Gates. Ibis’ stock went down the toilet overnight and Kyle’s money with it. So as it goes, Gates has been taken hostage on his own show by Budwell for doing something that’s so ill-advised, it’s not even a laughing matter. Who puts all their money in one place? Seriously? The opening minutes of the hostage situation are very tense. Clooney as Gates can’t keep his mouth shut, like Deadpool, the merc with the mouth. Patty (Julia Roberts) has to keep telling him to shut up so Kyle doesn’t kill him. Kyle is fragile in personality and could blow up at any point.

There’s a near invisible earpiece in Gates’ ear that allows Patty to keep feeding him info from the outside as well as Patty telling him to play along. They’re testing the waters to see how deep it is, and see what motivated Kyle into the described scenario. We also have Ibis’ Communications Director in the form of Outlander’s Caitriona Balfe. When it comes to facing a public problem, the rich and famous have to lie in the most pathetic way possible by saying “they don’t know” but not in so few words. Ibis’ $800m stock tanked and nobody wants to take responsibility. She’s lying for her boss who is nowhere to be found. She’s basically a corporate spin doctor. Her boss/lover is Walt Camby. Dominic West (The Wire) plays CEO Camby, and is on a private plane most of the time avoiding any sense of accountability. When he finally, lands, he’s under spotlight and his lies and deceit are finally called into question. Red faced and the sweat of dirty businessman rolls off his face with the real Walt finally being revealed. Business people lie for a living and this one finally gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

CEO Walt Camby (West) & corporate spin doctor Diane Lester (Balfe) (Money Monster, Sony Pictures Entertainment)

CEO Walt Camby (West) & corporate spin doctor Diane Lester (Balfe)
(Money Monster, Sony Pictures Entertainment)

Money Monster is an important movie about an unorthodox scenario. Foster has tried very hard to bring the hammer down on Wall Street using themes like morality, corruption and civil liberties. The ending is wrapped up with a piece of string and a bow like a christmas present. Life isn’t like that, and there’s this feel good aspect to it. Kyle got the truth in the only way in which the right people would take notice. When you have a gun pointed at your head, that’s when people pay attention. Their immediate security had been compromised and that’s when people normally take things seriously. Do I blame him? No, I don’t.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. I’m not saying Gates deserved it, but it wiped the smugness off his face when he got slapped in the face with a taste of “Real Life”. It ends with the ultimate humiliation of Camby in the most public and embarrassing way humanly possible. This movie is a fantasy because rich people never take responsibility. They hid behind committees, boards and pay people off to make problems go away. The housing market crash was blamed on immigrants and poor people, not the guys at the top who got greedy. As good as this movie was, it’s a fantasy make-believe world in the best kind of dream. In conclusion,This is a great movie because of its concept and performance yet it misleads us into believing that immorality is a criminal offence. Just because something is immoral or unethical, that doesn’t mean it’s illegal or a criminal offense. It just makes you an asshole.

Lee Gates (Clooney) and Kyle Budwell (Jack O'Connell)  Kyle is labelled as a terrorist but see his motivations and reasoning, subsequently feeling bad for the guy.  (Money Monster, Sony Pictures Entertainment)

Lee Gates (Clooney) and Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell)
Kyle is labelled as a terrorist, but we see his reasoning and subsequently feel bad for the guy.
(Money Monster, Sony Pictures Entertainment)

Kyle was the one with the gun in his hand. He was automatically demonized as a criminal because he was the one carrying the weapon, not the guy who was corrupt and generally a bad person for lining his own pockets. This movie shows that politics leads, and the law follows. It shows us the rich bankers and fat cats are bigger criminals than the Joe Bloggs on the street. He’s portrayed as a terrorist. We listen to this guy’s story and we see that he’s forced to do a bad thing, to make the real bad guys pay in other ways than just money, accountability.

A movie that makes you think about right, wrong and the grey areas in between. Just because something is legal, that doesn’t mean it’s right.

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