Five years after directing The Beaver, Jodie Foster returns to the director’s chair (she did direct two episodes of Orange is the New Black and one episode of House of Cards during this period) with a very topical financial thriller. Lee Gates (George Clooney) is a TV presenter who advises his audience on commerce and Wall Street, his show is hijacked at gunpoint by a down on his luck and bankrupt viewer, Kyle (Jack O’Connell), who claims that the system is rigged. The show’s director, Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts), must calm Kyle down in order to save Lee’s life. However, as the hostage crisis goes on it appears that there is something fishy about IBIS’s sudden loss of $800 million dollars.
As a result of the financial crash in 2008 there have been a number of financial thrillers ranging from the low-key Margin Call, 99 Homes to the more extreme Wolf Street of Wall Street and The Big Short and even a feminist financial thriller where women make up the major roles. Wall Street and big businesses has been taking a hit as they are often criticsed for greed, fraud and immoral financial activities. Money Monster will not land the hardest blow, it’s too breezily entertaining to do so, but Jodie Foster does a fine job at managing the tension in a situation that’s almost literally a ticking time bomb.
The tension inside the studio is palpable, and both Clooney and Roberts are superb in their respective roles, particularly Roberts whose often calm demeanour and words of reassurance to Gates defuses the situation superbly, but the potentially unhinged Kyle can explode at any moment. Jack O’Connell is also terrific in his role, able to not only bring empathy to his role but threat as he is acting like a man with nothing to lose.
When the film leaves the confines of the studio, the film loses elements of the tension that made the first two acts so exciting. Essentially, the third act is mostly just build up to a conclusion easily anticipated long before any revelations of dodgy deals are made. Aside from being a trifle predictable, the film works well as a thriller, but it’s not one that will get up in arms about the dubious financial sector.