So Jodie Foster, George Clooney, and Julia Roberts walk into a TV studio hostage situation… and make a movie! It may make for a story design right from the 1990’s, but who’s not ready to watch a movie with them in the main roles? Well, I’m here to break down “Money Monster” for your convenience.
Jodie Foster takes the director’s chair for this movie, where Lee Gates (George Clooney) hosts a popular, sort-of-hip business show powered by the sheer drive of his ego. Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts) is the show leader, but their work relationship is beginning to show some cracks. But the introduction of a frustrated man named Kyle (Jack O’ Connell) firing a gun and brandishing a bomb vest sends the day’s show into meltdown. Furious at his loss on a stock investment which went very wrong, he blames Lee for it all. The rest shows the live, broadcasted hostage situation to the world, and the rabbit hole of who is really to blame.
If you did take out the social media aspects of the story, this could indeed have been shot in the 1990’s, it feels odd watching this as I was contemplating this idea in my mind. Pretty much what I said in the synopsis is what happens in the story, the rest is the negotiations as well as the search for the truth. And in that perspective, I was enjoying it for the most part.
George Clooney takes the helm, and I mean come on, of course he’s going to be good. He along with Julia Roberts work exceptionally well together, their banter and bickering feels very genuine, as if the conversations they are having have happened before in some shape or form. Where Clooney’s character is the loose cannon in front of the camera, Julia’s character is the voice of sound reason and control in the recording room. So you get two people who you are introduced to in a way that gets you invested in them, and then have them separated for a large section of the running time as Clooney is left to try and talk to Kyle.
Jack playing Kyle feels like he initially might just be playing a typical New Jersy stereotype, but that subdues to a point where he is a struggling man who has hit his breaking point. The danger isn’t in his immediate threat, it is in how each shift in emotions brings him a little closer to snapping. We don’t know where that point is, which keeps the tension going. Jack performs very well, being distant with Clooney for the sequences that need it, and closer to him as things progress.
The movie shifts between showing the perspective from the studio cameras, the control room, and the normal cameras. It is a little overwhelming at first as you fight to keep track of where every viewpoint is. But it does go a little way towards averting from a found-footage style, and also giving the viewer every angle to consider the situation from. Editing is excellent, especially when you consider how small and confined the working space is. The pacing of the main plot is relatively good, but as we begin to discuss the side plots, things take a turn for the worse.
There are quite a few places which bring up issue. One was the hackers, who have about thirty seconds of screen time just so that their actions prevent a massive plot hole from opening up and devouring the entire story. The way they are shown too is just goofy. Another plot dealing with a business CEO swings in and out of importance, and the implementation of how it clicks with the main story can be a bit sloppy. But what irked me the most was the attempts at making it “modern” and “hip”. I understand that they wanted to connect this to a few things that are going on in today’s times, but the representation of how the public reacts to the story is an unemotional slush. It wants to make an important statement, but then mocks it for semi-comedic effect. I really don’t know what was going on with it all, but it just never clicked.
I think that the best thing I can say for this is that, everything that goes on in the studio itself (including the Control Room), are what makes this worth watching. The acting for these parts is solid, and the little changes in the narrative keep you on board. The rest drags it down, but I have to say that overall, it doesn’t to a point of detrimental damage.
“Money Monster” adds some good casting to a well-known story line, but makes something fairly good out of it, at least in parts. I can’t say I’m going to enthusiastically recommend you see it, but it’s not a bad choice for a weekend rental.
Thanks for reading!