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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

May 30, 2016

Money Monster Movie Review: Great Performances From George Clooney And Julia Roberts, Well Directed By Jodie Foster

WE THOROUGHLY enjoyed Jodie Foster’s latest directorial work, “Money Monster”, after her last one, “The Beaver”, failed to impress us. This time, she comes up with a thriller starring two Hollywood icons, George Clooney and Julia Roberts, in non-romantic roles. George is Lee Gates, the host of a TV show called “Money Monster” that dispenses financial advice to viewers. He gives tips on which stocks are hot and encourage them to invest. Julia is Patty, his show’s producer-director.

While airing his show’s newest episode live, a man disguised as a delivery boy suddenly barges in on the set, Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell), armed with a gun and a vest full of bombs which he orders George to put on. Kyle previously listened to George’s advice to invest his savings in IBIS Clear Capital, which then crashed with $800 million lost as a result of what’s allegedly a computer glitch, so he also lost all his hard earned money and this makes him go berserk.

Everyone inside the studio is practically held hostage as Kyle threatens to blow up the bomb. He wants to know why George is deceiving his viewers. The police soon arrive and, as may be expected, the hostage drama becomes an instant big hit reality TV show, closely watched by everyone not only in the U.S. but also abroad.

The movie seems to be a combination of the recent “The Big Short” (also about how big business rips off the unsuspecting wage earner) and “Dog Day Afternoon” (Sydney Lumet’s hit 1975 film about a bank robbery gone wrong). It is directed by two-time Oscar best actress, Jodie Foster, and she succeeds in building up the suspense with her swiftly paced narrative.

George does well as the beleaguered TV host who’s also a showman garbed in flashy costumes and even does entertaining dance routines with his backup dancers to hold the attention of viewers while talking about stocks. But it’s Julia who registers so well as the smart, strong-willed but level-headed TV exec who tries to be in control even in the worst kind of situations. With the help of an earpiece, she connects with George secretly and serves as a combination of his conscience and also his tactician who figures out the right things to do.

Jack O’Connell is likewise superb as an ordinary man who felt so cheated he loses all his marbles and demands answers in a violent manner. A great scene shows him with his pregnant girlfriend (Emily Meade in a short but sizzling, scene-stealing performance) berating him and humiliating him on national TV for being such a dumb ass. It’s meant to be funny but Jack comes out quite sympathetic, looking so lost and confused about what he has done.

Also giving good support are Dominic West as IBIS CEO Walt Camby who’s the real monster here as the rich executive who makes the little guys suffer with his unabated corporate greed, Caitriona Balfe as IBIS director of communications with a heart and conscience Diane Lester, and Christopher Denham as George’s efficient assistant who he asked to test out a new erectile cream approved by the FDA. The fine ensemble acting alone of the entire cast already makes this movie quite worth watching.