Ewan McGregor fluctuates between bright eyed jubilation and sunken-cheeked squallor in THE ROGUE TRADER. In this true story, he plays Nick Leeson, a futures trader who breaks the oldest private bank in the world, Barings Bank in London. Though an adequate cautionary tale on the pitfalls of greed, its made-for-TV movie appearance, foul langauge, drunkenness, and a few moments of foreplay limit its American appeal.
Before viewing THE ROGUE TRADER, it is worth mentioning a few of the practices involving movie watching in London, which differs from the U.S. First, seating is assigned. In fact, the closer you want to sit, the more you have to pay. Secondly, an usher makes sure you sit in your paid seat, and not someone else’s. Thirdly, advertisements for all sorts of products start running on the screen a full 25 minutes prior to the start of showtime. Finally, a curtain closes after the last advertisement and opens up again immediately to herald the start of the movie.
Though Ewan McGregor does little but fight with lightsabers in the U.S. product THE PHANTOM MENACE, he fluctuates between bright-eyed jubilation and sunken-cheeked squalor in THE ROGUE TRADER. In this true story, he plays Nick Leeson, a futures trader for Barings Bank, formerly the oldest private bank in the world, located in London. At the start, he sorts out a minor financial snafu in Jakarta and marries his assistant, the fetching Lisa (Anna Friel). Promoted, Nick is assigned to be the primary trader in Singapore.
Through daring-do, which turns into outright gambling, Nick rebounds from some heavy losses. This confidence inspires him to use the bank’s own money, a financial no-no, to cover other loses for his clients. Yet, more losses rack up, more bank money is gambled, and eventually he puts Barings bank some 300 million pounds in the hole. Throughout it all, his wife stands by his side as he literally goes from one gut-wrenching loss to the next, which ultimately, as London event-followers know, breaks the bank.
Power tends to corrupt, and THE ROGUE TRADER demonstrates that abusing power will not only corrupt oneself, but destroy one’s workplace, one’s marriage and possibly the livelihoods of many co-workers and dependants. Though it is painful to watch McGregor handedly engage in increasingly more criminal activities, this movie lacks taut direction (and budget) to compete with the fictional state-side WALL STREET with Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen. Obviously, Leeson moves in glamorous and posh circles, but the story’s credibility suffers greatly from a low budget look and attitude. High-end stories require high-end appearances, and this movie doesn’t have it.
McGregor, again shows his wide range, but Friel does little but act as an ornament. Strangely too, the movie champions her as standing by her man, but at the end, a small-lettered postscript states she immediately divorced him after his arrest.
The story of a man’s collapse by greed is an old one, and these type of stories need to be told to remind the tempted that illegal, unethical practices yield just desserts eventually. This movie contains strong accents and London and Singapore locations that may not hit close enough to home for Americans. Likewise, its aforementioned storytelling weaknesses make this made-for-TV appearing movie instantly forgettable.
Largely pagan worldview of rule-breaking stock-trading with Christian funeral & moral element of paying for one's crimes; 43 obscenities, 5 profanities & lewd gestures; brief violent scene where man is smacked in face with chair; briefly depicted foreplay implying fornication & briefly depicted foreplay implying marital intercourse; full male nudity (no genitalia), upper female nudity & male exposes his bottom to woman; alcohol use & drunkenness; smoking; and, vomiting depicted, fraud, forgiveness, lying, & breach of trust.