Making a sequel to a film over twenty years after the fact is risky not only because of trying to get the original talent back but also coming up with a good enough story to revive it. Wall Street was hardly a film that screamed “sequel” but director Oliver Stone saw enough possibility in a modern version of it to give it a go-around. Stone brought back Douglas and incorporated Gordon Gekko’s daughter into the mix as well as her boyfriend/fiancé. Although not received well by critics, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps fared well enough at the box office, although the films $70 million dollar budget wasn’t even recouped domestically.
Following a lengthy prison term, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) finds himself on the outside looking in at a world he once commanded. Hoping to repair his relationship with his daughter, Winnie (Carey Mulligan), Gekko forges an alliance with her fiancé, Jake (Shia LaBeouf). But Winnie and Jake learn the hard way that Gekko is still a master manipulator who will stop at nothing to reclaim his rightful place at the top of Wall Street.
I thought it would be a bit strange watching the sequel to a film I’d never seen…and a film that was so lauded with history already at that. Despite this it didn’t take long to get caught up on what happened in the first film, what with the occasional throwback references (hello Charlie Sheen cameo!) and the intro to the film setting everything up for us. Sadly those expecting a film that focuses on Gekko will be disappointed as it is mostly LaBeouf’s show this time around. He does carry the film admirably though, as everything from his smooth talking amongst co-workers to his dealings with Josh Brolin’s character are exceptionally played out. Sadly this film is really just two hours of the same stuff—worry over a financial situation and banter between LaBeouf and Douglas.
It really seems like this film could have been so much more and that’s really the main problem with it. There’s nothing terribly wrong with it other than that it doesn’t feel like enough. Like something was being held back or that elements weren’t taken far enough. I enjoyed LaBeouf’s intensity when sparring (verbally) with Brolin or Douglas, but at the same time he didn’t really seem all that imposing. He was smart, witty, and superb with words but considering the general “evil” he was going up against he just didn’t pack enough of a punch. On the flipside Brolin was definitely to be feared but he was on screen for so little that it ultimately didn’t matter.
Truthfully it seemed as if the film could have gone on longer, although at two hours it was already pushing it. Stone definitely timed it at the right point in history for Gekko’s return, but ultimately Gekko just returns to his former self and backhanded tactics too soon. You want reform from him, yet even when it comes it still feels wrong. Pile onto all of this that the films dual plots concerning LeBeouf’s character just got too confusing at times and you just have a very misshapen film. I loved the characters and the fast paced nature of it, but not enough to really ever go back to it. Stone did incorporate plenty of visual treats to help transition from scene to scene but it ultimately doesn’t matter in the end—the film is what it is and unfortunately it isn’t the riveting sequel we all hoped for. Instead it’s Gekko inserted into the bail out talks, albeit abstractly. If it had focused more on him and his re-integration into society it might have been a bit more riveting…but as is the brief glimpse of his giant cell phone and dated clothing were all to brief.
All in all it’s a Recommended film just for the performances (Frank Langella was particularly fantastic in his very, very small role), but it’s not something you’ll revisit more than once.
The set itself arrives in a standard two-disc Elite Blu-ray case with a nice looking slipcover (although it’s really the portrait style artwork that does all the popping off the shelf). Inside is a barren case with just the pair of discs (the second being the digital copy). Menus are simple and easy to navigate and extras are delightfully plentiful.
Video is a AVC encoded 1080p effort and as usual it looks great. There isn’t a whole lot on this disc to fight for space so the fact that this is a fairly flawless transfer isn’t surprising, although there are a lot of low-lit scenes where grain crops up a bit; but aside from that there are plenty of daylight sequences that really show off what the format is capable when it comes to lighting and the detail that they can provide. It’s a pretty nice looking little transfer, although nothing that will shock you in this day and age. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix is decidedly kind of overkill on a film like this so it’s no surprise that the surrounds barely make a whisper most of the time (aside the various helicopters or motorcycles that crop up). Office chatter fills the surrounds mostly but there really just isn’t much other than that. Same for the LFE really—it’s a pretty mundane audio mix but it serves its purpose.
A Conversation with Oliver Stone and the Cast
Money, Money, Money
Deleted / Extended Scenes
Fox Movie Channel Presents In Character
Between the audio commentary and numerous featurettes there is plenty of behind-the-scenes info on this film included here. Really we just want to know why Stone decided to return to this world with Gekko and he covers that pretty thoroughly in the early parts of the commentary (the later parts get a bit dry). All told though there are about two hours of bonus features not including the commentary which is both surprising and nice. And it’s all really worthwhile as well since it’s a lot of character focus—something the film itself hardly had enough of. But work into the mix about a half hour of deleted scenes and you get some of the needed exposition that was missing…even if it isn’t technically part of the real film itself.
Overall a Recommended release for Stone fans.
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.