Perhaps the presence of the word "sleeps" in the title should have been a danger flashing sign.
Then again, as a mega-fan of the Oliver Stone's original Wall Street, no danger flashing signs — even those as strong as the overwhelmingly negative reviews and presence of Shia LeBeouf — were likely to keep me from checking out the return of Gekko.
The problem, or one of many, was the return of Gekko that Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps was supposed to be didn't have much Gekko in it.
Maybe Charlie Sheen's Bud Fox got more screen time in Wall Street than Michael Douglas' Gordon Gekko did, but there certainly was a lot more Gekko in the original than in the sequel. And when there was, he wasn't reconnecting with a daughter who blamed him for not being there (because he was in prison, the selfish bastard), which somehow contributed to her brother/his son committing suicide.
Oh yeah, sorry. If you were hoping for the return of the fruit-tossing brat Rudy from the original, no dice. Guess those French lessons didn't pan out.
Douglas was good returning to Gekko, his most iconic film role, but the material he got to work with just didn't come close to matching up. He was barely in this movie though, so it didn't much matter.
The stuff we did get was mostly pretty lame. Josh Brolin is solid as the fill-in Gekko character Bretton James, and when the movie focuses on the back-room financial warring and deal-making, it's entertaining enough at times. But there's just way too little of that and way too much crybaby relationship stuff with LeBeouf, Carey Mulligan, Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon and even Douglas a bit.
And, much like a corrupt CEO's million-dollar bonus (or golden parachute), none of the emotional conflict feels earned in this movie. Most of Money Never Sleeps is just boring as hell.
Stone wants to warn us about an impending economic apocalypse should the cycle of Wall Street chicanery, no federal oversight and huge bailouts continue. And a movie more focused on that might have been better, but this isn't that movie. Sleep on it.
— 1.5 out of 5 giant '80s mobile phones
* Charlie "cocaine suitcase" Sheen makes a cameo as original Wall Street hero Bud Fox, and it is pathetically lame. I, for one, will choose to believe it never happened. Bud Fox deserves better.
* The writer of this post on the trailer was severely bummed after finally seeing the movie. The only good news is I think I have a leftover free OnDemand movie coupon to use, so this one will be on Comcast.