'Wall Street' Sequel Needs More Evil

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Greed may be good, as Gordon Gekko insisted once upon a time, but evil pays the bills. Sadly, there isn't enough evil to make the sequel Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps a good enough movie.


Let's invest a couple more minutes in this movie, find out if it's blue chip or toxic.

Here's our financial advisor Kenneth Turan.

KENNETH TURAN: Greed may be good, as Gordon Gekko insisted, but evil pays the bills. And the best parts of this erratic and downright messy film are the moments when the bad people take center stage.

So let's hear it for fearless 94-year-old Eli Wallach, who makes eccentric chirping noises and reminisces about the crash of 1929, and some applause for Josh Brolin, an arrogant investment banker with an ego the size of Antarctica. He's always looking for new hotshot traders to add to his team.

(Soundbite of movie, "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps")

Mr. JOSH BROLIN (Actor): (as Bretton James) The mentor-prot�g� relationship is not emotional over anything. And I thought you might be a good addition to the Churchill Schwartz team. Am I mistaken?

Mr. SHIA LABEOUF (Actor): (as Jake Moore) Let me tell you something, Bretton. You are not my mentor. So you may talk about moral hazard - you are the moral hazard. You are the worst kind of toxic that this system is polluted with.

TURAN: Jake Moore, played by Shia LaBeouf, is more of a striving pipsqueak than a presence to be respected. His weakness is a black hole that sucks energy out of the movie. Sadly, he's also dating Gekko's estranged daughter and the great man wants to use him to get back in his child's good graces.

Gekko looks grizzled as well as charismatic, like a street person turned nightclub impresario. Now that he's out of prison, he attempts to reinvent himself as a celebrity writer and all-around prophet of fiscal doom.

This version of "Wall Street" can't seem to decide if Gekko is the bad to the bone lizard king he once was or someone who's seen the light, thank you very much, and is on the road to redemption. Or maybe he's both.

Only one thing is sure: Without him "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" would be even more of a snooze than it already is.

INSKEEP: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and The Los Angeles Times.

If you'd like some help in choosing a movie this weekend, you can find more reviews at our Web site, NPR.org.

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Im Steve Inskeep.

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