Money Monster, directed by Jodie Foster, is a film that very early on loses what it wants to be. A larger, less human story takes over and leaves a lot behind, and in the middle of it all are characters that are woefully underdeveloped and at times overlooked. There are problems to dissect, so let’s get to it.
The story in Money Monster sees angered man, Kyle Budwell – played by Jack O’Connell – hold TV host, Lee Gates – played by George Clooney – hostage at gunpoint and also with a trigger sensitive explosive vest on him. While the studio crew are also held against their will; including, Patty Fenn – played by Julia Roberts – Kyle seeks answers as to what really went wrong with a $60.000 investment he made in a stock that Lee Gates assured couldn’t fail.
There are quite a few issues with this film and one that sticks out immediately is just how lost it feels (very early on). This is a film that starts off with a meaningful motivation: a man who lost everything he had on a bad investment; one that was highly recommended to him. This is a person you can sympathise with and immediately get on board with when the getting of answers is concerned. So it’s baffling why the film takes such large chunks of its limited runtime (99 minutes) and dedicates it to elements that detract from fully exploring ‘Kyle Budwell’ as a character. Though the character is certainly on-screen for a good portion of the film, I barely feel like I got to know how he actually felt.
This issue isn’t helped by the fact that the film jumps around from one nonsensical (character) decision to another. Whether it’s a studio crew who continue to willingly operate cameras while standing a few feet from a bomb, or police officers who make some extremely asinine decisions – ‘Money Monster’ is a film that felt like it didn’t have all the proper pieces in place to tell its story, and thus a lot suffered.
Speaking of the story; ‘Money Monster’ delivers a story that is underwhelming and lacking in any consequential outcome. I wanted to dive so much deeper into what seemed like some compelling characters but the film was seemingly unwilling too. It jumps around to scenes that feel detractive to the main driving force of the film. While it’s being nonsensical it is also being silly. The film presents some logic that is laughable, and at times insulting to the intelligence of the audience. I more than once was perplexed by how certain situations where playing out/being resolved. It’s annoying because large portions of this story just get in the way of actually spending suitable time with its characters; which as you can imagine leaves them lacking.
The lack of depth that the characters actually had was surprising. This is a film with a rich cast of actors (George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O’Connell, Dominic West, Caitriona Balfe, Giancarlo Esposito) yet none of them are given anywhere near the time or development they need/deserve. Both Jack O’Connell and George Clooney’s characters are crying out for more. Not only are the two underdeveloped but with all that is going on within the film, their relationship over the course of the film feels strangely off-balance. Things develop in a way that doesn’t feel congruent to what is happening on-screen.
This is also a film that tonally is unsure of how to handle its subject manner. On one hand you have a commentary on these types of TV shows that currently dole out financial advice; the film is clearly highlighting the shady and gaudy nature of them. But it then forgets to step-away from that commentary when it is trying to focus on the emotionally charged confrontation between ‘Kyle Budwell’ and the people responsible for lying to him. Moments that should be powerful and shocking, instead had the audience around me laughing – which certainly killed the mood of the moment. Now it’s debatable on if the audience miss read the film or if the film itself was confusing, but for me personally I saw a film that was flip-flopping in its presentation.
What I think might be the films biggest loss however, is that it tackles something that is actually an inherent problem within the world today, but does it in a way that feels diminishing to it. When it’s all said and done the film kind of negates itself entirely. There isn’t an ending that feels satisfying – in fact the film is actually quite defeating in how it wrap-up. Now yes, I understand the film probably wanted to highlight that if even a situation like what happened in ‘Money Monster’ couldn’t help wake people up to the corruption then what could. The problem with constructing your entire film around that idea is that it leaves you with a film that feels somewhat pointless. ‘Money Monster’ isn’t going to wake people up, and for it to try is a little silly on its part. Instead the film should have focused on trying to tell a meaningful story about a character and his struggle to try and fix his life.
I left the cinema not only disappointed, but empty. ‘Money Monster’ didn’t stir any real emotion within me, it didn’t make me invest in a story that I wanted to see rectified, and it certainly didn’t cause me to care/root for its characters. This is a film that tries to spin too many plates at one time (some of those plates didn’t even need to be there) and in the end they all fell.
I won’t be recommending ‘Money Monster’. I gained nothing from this film and left completely without care for it. It’s a shame because I really liked everyone involved – Jodie Foster and Jack O’Connell in particular – but somewhere along the line this film lost its way and never found its way back.
What are your thoughts on ‘Money Monster’, or this review? Let me know in the comments down below. If you’d like to keep up-to-date on my other ramblings (which would be appreciated) you could either follow this blog directly, or follow me over on Twitter – @GavinsTurtle. Thanks for taking the time to read this review, it’s always appreciated. Have a great week.