An unlikely sequel that is wholly unnecessary. Back in 1987, Oliver Stone's WALL STREET defined the era of its time which also included Michael Douglas' Oscar-winning memorable role as the oily Gordon Gecko and his phenomenally popular catchphrase, "Greed... is good". In this sequel entitled WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS, Oliver Stone made his first-ever sequel in his directing career and it's almost sounds like a distinctive comeback for this once-maverick filmmaker after a continuously losing streak of poorly-received efforts (2004's ALEXANDER, 2006's WORLD TRADE CENTER, and 2008's W). While the movie is slickly-made and released in timely manner to capitalize on our current economic downturn, it's sad to say that Oliver Stone we once knew has gone too soft for his good.
In the meantime, the movie opens promisingly with Gordon Gecko (Douglas) walks out of prison (among the quirky reference involved the heavy-duty mobile phone), and finds nobody there to pick him up. Cut to 2008, we are introduced to Jake Moore (Shia LaBeouf), a young and ambitious Wall Street trader who is very eager to hit big-time in his career. He is strongly believes that green technology is the next big thing. But all that promise is quickly toppled over when his trusted boss and mentor Louis Zabel (Frank Langella) literally jumps in front of a train after hedge fund manager Bretton James (Josh Brolin) refuses to save his troubled company. Driven by hatred and vengeance in his mind, Jake tries to seek professional help from Gordon, who is now a successful book author of "Is Greed Good?". Jake meets him in a local university, where Gordon is lecturing about the ugly side of current financial climate (one of the best scenes in the movie) and immediately impressed by his enthusiastic speech. On the other hand, Jake is also happens to date Gecko's estranged daughter, Winnie (Carey Mulligan), who works as a journalist. He informs Gordon that he and Winnie are engaged. Gordon make a deal with Jake that he will tipped him on how to get back at Bretton in exchange for getting his daughter to see him again. While Jake is slowly working his way up to avenge Louis' death, Winnie wants nothing to do with her father as she still blaming him for the overdosing death of her older brother Rudy. She also believes that Gordon is not to be trusted at all. With Jake actually being blindsided one side after another, Gordon begins to manipulate him into getting access to Winnie's 100-million-dollar trust fund for his own benefit.
From the outlook of the movie, Allan Loeb and Stephen Schiff's screenplay actually has something intriguing to say about this otherwise unnecessary sequel. For some moments there, the sequel does offer some juicy direction that Stone have been sorely lacking these days but at 136-minutes long, the whole movie feels painfully overlong. While the technical standpoint is impressive -- courtesy of Rodrigo Prieto's magnificent lensing -- as well as Stone's playful mix of split-screens and CSI-like POV shot of financial trade market, much of the movie is a tedious slog. Once the setup is established, the narrative takes a hard nosedive that ultimately slowing down the pace and begins to wander around in circles. It is this ultimate weakness that the movie grows increasingly uneven and loses momentum to a near standstill. Make no mistake, there are bursts of lively moments once we witnesses Gordon is back to his old oily self right but that scene alone takes too much leisure time to get to the point. What is Stone thinking anyway? Blame him for being too ambitious, as Stone attempts to weight his movie with lots of long-winded subplots.
As for the cast, Shia LaBeouf is magnetic as the enthusiastic and career-hungry Jake Moore. His ever-present neurotic acting is always incredible to watch for, and continues to prove that he can tackles adult role with equal flair. In what could have been a thankless role, the multi-talented Carey Mulligan is absolutely stunning with her well-calculated role who exhibits great deal of genuine vulnerability and honesty vibe. Not only that, her thick American accent is spot-on impressive and very convincing as well. In a small but crucial role, Frank Langella is particularly memorable as the tormented and ill-fated Louis Zabel. His simple but effective scene alone is downright electric -- we finds him waking up the next morning, having a quiet breakfast with his wife and goes to work as usual. After buying newspaper and a bag of chips, he takes his time enjoying it sitting at the bench inside the subway platform. Once finished, he is ready to make his way amongst the crowd waiting for the incoming train for arrival before casually jumping off the track to his death.
Unfortunately it's disappointing to know that the villains in this movie are surprisingly lackluster. Josh Brolin may have the despicable charm in his presence but his role is somewhat hollow, but the most disappointing of all is none others than Michael Douglas himself. Reprising his famous role as Gordon Gecko, it's actually good to see him slipping back to his familiar acting territory that the viewers always come to enjoy performing in such role. While Douglas make some effort to make his Gordon Gecko an involving character who grows considerably along with his old age. But his softer side proves to be too much, and viewers who is long for his trademark ruthlessness will be sorely disappointed. Lastly, an unexpected (very brief) cameo appearance by Charlie Sheen, who reprised his role as Bud Fox is more of a stunt casting than a necessity. His particular interaction with Gordon in one scene is anything but ordinary.
Ultimately, WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS is one of the most disappointed major motion pictures of the year. It's a huge missed opportunity that could have put fading artists like Oliver Stone and Michael Douglas back into Hollywood spotlight, but what we have here instead, is a terribly half-baked effort.