"In Greed We Trust"
Oliver Stone is touted as the most brilliant “left-wing” filmmaker of our day. However, many of his movies have been mediocre, and at least one of his movies, WORLD TRADE CENTER, was not left-wing. That said, he does have a hard leftist agenda and much of it is wrapped up in his own personal history. Stone’s original WALL STREET movie and this sequel are reflections of that history.
Interestingly, this is one of Stone’s best movies. In fact, he tries to be so subtle about his ideological propagandizing that it will be lost on many people. In fact, in the movie’s production notes, Stone complains that many people didn’t get the first WALL STREET movie. “It’s still amazing,” he says, “the number people who came to me over the years who said, ‘I took a career on Wall Street because of your movie.’” He noted that, “I made WALL STREET as a morality tale, and I think it was misunderstood by many.”
The new movie opens with a narration about evolution, chance and burst bubbles, the biggest being the Cambrian explosion that the narrator contends occurred millions of years ago. This geological disaster foreshadows the financial bubble collapse of 2008 featured in the movie.
Gordon Gecko is being released from prison. Apparently, he has nothing, and there’s no one to meet him, not even his daughter Winnie, who hates him because her mother went mad and her brother committed suicide.
Seven years later, Winnie runs a tiny progressive, left-wing website. Even so, she lives with a smart, young Wall Street trader named Jacob Moore (Jake), who is an up and coming Gordon Gecko. His mentor is Lewis Zabel, the head of Keller Zabel, an investment firm.
Jake is trying to make a killing in alternative energy by funding a fusion power research project. Suddenly, Keller Zabel is hit by a wave of false rumors that forces Lewis to go to the Federal Reserve for a bailout. His nemesis, Bretton James, who also helped destroy Gordon Gecko years before, convinces the Fed not to help Zabel’s firm. When the firm goes down, Lewis throws himself under the subway.
Shaken to his core, Jake goes to a lecture given by Gecko. He wants to try to reconcile Winnie with her father so he can marry her. However, listening to Gordon, he becomes a disciple. Gordon and Jake conspire to take revenge on Bretton James.
Gordon also tries to reconcile with Winnie. Evidently, Gordon has $100 million stashed away in Switzerland in Winnie’s name. If Jake could get his hands on that money, his fusion project might fly.
Winnie doesn’t want any money, however. She just wants to be free of Wall Street. And, the questions are: Are there any good guys? Has Gordon changed his spots? And, will Jake finally do the right thing?
WALL STREET: THE MONEY NEVER SLEEPS is a well-written script, with tremendously well-crafted dialogue and action points. Surprisingly, it’s much cleaner than the first movie, aside from brief foul language, and it’s so positive about family that, for many people, it might be hard to see the strong socialist message.
Even so, the movie makes it clear that people are deeply flawed evolved beings and that their greed will cause more and more financial disasters until the government intervenes. It is interesting that the government in the movie is just beyond the story except for a brief appearance at the two Federal Reserve meetings. The dialogue makes it clear, however, that the government rescue is absolutely necessary to save these greedy Wall Street types from themselves. Yet, the movie doesn’t ask who’s going to save us from the government once they nationalize the banks. Yes, the word nationalization and socialism is used for the act of government involvement. Does Oliver Stone really think his evolutionary model of broken people and economic materialism stops at Wall Street?
This is where Oliver’s past is important. Even a quick reference to his biographical materials gives a Freudian snapshot of the demons oppressing him. Even though his father was a Jewish Wall Street stockbroker, Oliver has made some very strong anti-Jewish comments recently. (The British newspaper, The Times carried an interview with Stone on July 25, 2010, where he complained about Jewish influence in parts of the US media and foreign policy and explained that there was a powerful Jewish lobby within the US.) His father left his mother when Oliver was a teenager because his father was carrying on several affairs. His mother was a Catholic Frenchwoman, and Oliver spent several summers with his mother’s family in France.
Thus, Winnie’s complaints about her father’s adultery, affairs and greed echo Oliver’s autobiography. It’s also clear that Oliver wants a father and has not only made movies about strong paternalistic dictators such as Castro and Chavez, but also says he wants to make a movie setting the record straight on Adolph Hitler, whom Stone feels has been misjudged by history. With all this in mind, the story of WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS clarifies itself.
Even so, it is doubtful anyone watching this movie will become a hardened socialist or communist. It is more likely that they will see this story of Gordon Gecko and Jacob Moore being free to go from poverty to wealth in a free market as something they would like for themselves. Oliver may get frustrated when the next generation tells him they went to WALL STREET because of WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS.
Aside from the obvious ideological caution, the movie does demand an extreme caution for foul language, suicide (although no blood is shown), a brief sexual situation and reference to father’s extramarital affairs, very quick male nudity as man pulls comforter over himself, drinking, resentment of parents, and corporate intrigue, fraud and stock manipulation that is eventually rebuked.
(HHH, EvEv, B, SoSoSo, LLL, V, S, N, AA, D, MM) Very strong humanist, strong evolutionary worldview with a surprisingly positive portrayal of family and a plot device that involves a sonogram of a baby in the womb and a very positive portrayal of socialist government interference in the marketplace with several strong statements that men and women are greedy, selfish, dysfunctional, good and bad, as a result of evolution and can’t help themselves; 30 obscenities and nine profanities and a dollar bill in the credits replaces “In God We Trust” with “In Greed We Trust”; man throws himself in front of a subway to commit suicide, motorcycle race where one cyclist forces the other cyclist to slow down so they can go through a narrow gate; unmarried couple in bed together, woman gets pregnant but couple then gets married, reference to father’s extramarital affairs; very quick full male nudity as man pulls comforter over himself but not completely shown; drinking, sometimes to excess; smoking; and, resentment of parents, rebuke of mother, lying, and corporate intrigue, fraud and stock manipulation but some of it rebuked.
Self-proclaimed, left-wing director Oliver Stone’s WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS is a sequel to his earlier hit starring Michael Douglas. It opens with Michael’s villain, Gordon Gecko, getting out of jail in 2001 with no possessions and no friends, including his estranged daughter Winnie. Seven years later, Winnie runs a progressive, anti-business website, while her boyfriend, Jake Moore, is a stockbroker, who is making millions at an investment firm. The company suddenly goes bust, sabotaged by another investment banker. Jake turns to Winnie’s infamous father to get revenge, but dealing with Gordon Gecko always has a price.
WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS sets its well-written story in context by mentioning evolution, chance and man’s greed. The dialogue makes it clear that the government socialist nationalization of the banks is absolutely necessary to save greedy Wall Street types from themselves. Yet, the movie doesn’t ask who’s going to save us from the government. Also, though it’s not as lewd as it could have been, it has plenty of PG-13 rated content, so extreme caution is advised. Surprisingly, the movie makes Wall Street seem somewhat glamorous, so the movie’s socialist messages may get lost.