By Bradley Griffith
“Money Monster” is the latest collaboration between George Clooney and Julia Roberts. Throw in Jodie Foster as director and you have the makings of a good movie. “Money Monster” is an interesting and tense drama, even though it didn’t exactly rake in the money at the box office.
Lee Gates (Clooney) is a loudmouth. He’s a showman and an entertainer who uses the gift of gab and confidence to become the successful host of a financial program on TV. Rather than being drab and boring, Gates’ show has dancing girls, props, and outlandish financial predictions. Being over the top is Gates’ shtick. Patty Fenn (Roberts) is the producer of the show, known as Money Monster.
Everything is going great for Gates and Money Monster until he endorsed a stock known as IBIS Global Capital. The stock then tanked, costing investors over $800 million in one day. Suddenly, IBIS CEO Walt Camby (Dominic West) disappears and skips a scheduled appearance on Money Monster. Instead, Diane Lester (Caitriona Balfe), the chief communications officer of IBIS, must fill in for Camby and answer difficult questions from Gates. IBIS claims that the stock dropped due to a software glitch, though no one can explain what that means.
As the program begins a lone delivery driver, Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell), enters the studio through the back door. Budwell has a couple of packages to deliver. He makes his way to the set and on live TV pulls a pistol and takes Gates hostage. Budwell then makes Gates don a suicide vest loaded with explosives. The vest is controlled by a dead man’s switch. Budwell holds his thumb on the detonation switch and if he takes his thumb off the switch the vest will explode.
Budwell lost his life savings on IBIS Global Capital. He wants the same answer as everyone else. How could a computer glitch cause a loss of over $800 million in one day? Gates, Fenn, and Lester all scramble to find the truth behind the glitch before it’s too late.
“Money Monster” opened to an underwhelming debut in theaters of only $14.8 million for its opening weekend. This poor performance may be somewhat of a surprise for a movie starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts. However, if you look at the trend of recent Clooney movies, the performance of “Money Monster” is par for the course.
While Clooney’s movies don’t necessarily make a lot of money, some are good dramas with good writing, good stories, and good acting. “Money Monster” is one of those films. The idea behind the movie is a novel concept as far as taking someone hostage and broadcasting the kidnapping live around the world.
It’s almost surreal to see Clooney portray a character who becomes meek and cowering in the face of danger. Clooney has made his career on his easy smile, confidence, and swagger. Yet Gates is clearly frightened and instantly passive the moment Budwell pulls the pistol. It’s a welcome different side of Clooney.
“Money Monster” is intense and includes a few unexpected twists and turns and a few laughs thrown in at unexpected times. It’s not setting any records at the box office and won’t win any awards, but it is an entertaining movie perfect for a rainy day.
Rated R for language throughout, some sexuality, and brief violence.