Expectations are dangerous. Some of my greatest film going experiences were largely due to the fact that I had no idea what the film was about. Sadly, this has become increasingly difficult to do. The film industry has started to follow a trend where they no longer care if they spoil or falsely advertise a movie through their marketing. Given the sheer number of films being released, they just care about selling tickets, even if at the expense of the film.
Jodie Foster’s latest film, Money Monster, offers more than its trailer.
But not much.
When a desperate man named Kyle (Jack O’Connell) holds financial guru Lee Gates (George Clooney) hostage at gunpoint during Gates’ live show, the only thing Gates can do to placate the gunman is search for the answer to Kyle’s one question: How did one company lose $800 million, which included all of Kyle’s money, overnight?
As the title of this review suggests, Money Monster is entertaining. It makes audiences laugh, gasp and rarely bores them. It does all of this despite having a plot that is overall predictable, which makes the film somewhat ingenious since predictability is what usually destroys thrillers. The film’s exceptional cast elevates a weak script and manages to keep audiences invested in their characters even though the film lacks any tension. Really, not once will you doubt the safety of Lee Gates and his crew. Yet, because of their interactions and the chemistry between them you won’t care about the lack of danger.
This is why Money Monster is a bit of a mess. Thrillers rely on mystery and tension to keep you guessing. Will the protagonist survive? Did the suspect commit the crime? What went wrong? Thrillers usually focus on one of these question and make sure you never learn the answer until they reveal it. It also takes great skill to tackle multiple questions without confusing the audience. Money Monster has no mystery. It focuses on the wrong questions and makes every answer obvious. Add odd tonal choices and you get the aforementioned mess.
The film appears to not know what type of film it wants to be. The tone varies from extremely humorous and lighthearted to anxious and angry. I found myself laughing during certain scenes that should be terrifying but weren’t due to the film’s erratic tone. The humor broke tension that the film desperately needed and the only reason Money Monster gets away with it is because it succeeds in making us laugh.
Money Monster is a superficial story that depends too heavily on its performers. The plot is overly simplistic; it fails to give a reasonable explanation as to why the police is incompetent and why certain companies can do what they do without detection. For a film that emphasizes the importance of journalism and the need for journalist to remain vigilant, not once does it dare to investigate the crux of the issue: legislation. Again, the film isn’t smart like The Big Short. Unlike The Big Short, it’s fun to watch.
Remember, keep your expectations low.
Do that and you’ll have a good time.
Money Monster was released May 13, 2016.