Living in England, sometimes we get films a few weeks or even months after they’re released in America. Money Monster is one of those films, and after initial buzz from the trailer, the reviews were quite mixed. Something a lot of people said was ‘the movie star is dead’, and when a film starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts underperforms, they might have a point. But focusing on this, as many did, doesn’t really reflect the quality of the film, so for me at least, there was a chance this film could go either way.
Lee Gates (George Clooney) is the charismatic, if slightly unlikable presenter of Money Monster, a show that discusses the financial world. One day when filming an episode, Lee is attacked by a man with a gun, who forces him to wear a vest with explosives attached to it, therefore keeping him, and everybody in the studio hostage, and forcing the network to continue the broadcast.
This is only really the setup, and there’s a lot more to the plot that I don’t want to reveal. It goes much deeper than I was expecting, and the incredibly lean script handles a number of twists and tense, dramatic moments in a believable way. Everything here feels like it could really happen, and it helps that all of the events take place more or less in real-time.
I’ve never seen anything Jodie Foster has directed before, but if they’re anywhere near the quality of this, I’m going to start looking forward to everything she does. It seems to help that she has so much experience acting, as she clearly knows how to get good performances from the people she’s working with. While George Clooney and Julia Roberts have both been around for years, Jack O’Connell is relatively inexperienced. All three of the leads give performances that are equal to anything I’ve seen them in, and every member of the supporting cast also manage to hold their own.
There’s no real area that this film is let down by. It looks great, it’s well paced, I was frequently shocked by events that happened, and more than that, it subtly and effectively handles important social and political subjects. It never rams anything down your throat, but by the end of the film you’re left thinking about not just what you’ve seen, but the way the real world handles certain situations.