********* 6 out of 10 *********
Director: Jodie Foster
Actors: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O’Connell
You need not always have the most mesmerizing of stories to create a great movie. And sometimes you can go wrong with the best of the scripts. Movie-making is after all a complicated business, putting together so many elements in such a manner that the majority of the audience loves the final piece. The final movie that unfolds does not always deserve to be categorised simply as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for it could very well lie somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. Jodie Foster’s Money Monster becomes an example of a tough movie to judge because it has many pieces that are absolutely riveting, and an equal number that are disappointing. In the end what you get is an old-fashioned drama-thriller for the modern times, which despite its vices, makes for a good one-time watch.
The story of Money Monster, by Alan DiFiore and Jim Kouf along with additional screenplay help from Jamie Linden, is quite straightforward. An irate investor (Jack O’Connell) holds a financial TV host Lee Gates (George Clooney) as hostage, demanding answers for one bad tip. And yes, the entire drama is unfolding live on television! Stories of similar nature have been seen in a few TV drama shows, so there is nothing particularly refreshing that Money Monster brings to the table. The movie starts in a very chaotic manner as Lee Gates is about to start a new episode, prancing around in a strange hat which leaves us wondering as to what has George Clooney been reduced to.
But once you get through the first twenty minutes or so of the film, the hostage situation does start to become more interesting. Jodie Foster does not have the same reputation as a director as she has as an actress, but she starts to get the characters to be more alive and create a connection with the audience. She keeps up the high tempo of the film, never lingering too long on one particular scene which gives the film a broader dimension than what would have been possible with a one-location shot film. George Clooney gets settled in and his charm starts to rub onto us as the movie flows forward. Julia Roberts, who is the director of Lee Gates’ TV show, brings a calm and soothing touch to the drama, and her wonderful chemistry with Clooney becomes the biggest strength of the film, despite the fact that both of them hardly spend time together in a single frame. Jack O’Connell starts off rusty but grows into his role as the movie progresses, displaying a few more layers in his personality that make things interesting.
Money Monster though never elevates to an A-grade kind of movie. Just maybe when you feel it is on an upward path, it starts to go haywire as the climax draws nearer. The plot starts to get silly again, as if trying to get away from logic as much as possible. In its need to remain thrilling, it compromises on the quality of the story, which does it more harm than good. The movie is held together in the final stages only by the strong cast of actors, which also includes Caitriona Balfe who brings a dazzling personality on screen as one of the key management personnel of a corporate entity which is central to the plot, and Lenny Venito who plays the no-talking loyal cameraman of the studio.
Money Monster delivers some of its best moments when it isn’t trying to be a thriller, like when George Clooney implores people to buy stocks of a particular company or when he speaks his heart out in appreciating Julia Roberts as the director of his show. Maybe with some more refinement, a sharper story line, Money Monster could have elevated to something more than just a thriller. Well, as of now, it is still enjoyable as a thriller, though forgettable too.