In this remake of Frankenstein, money is the monster, and its creators don’t know what to do with it.
Okay, that interpretation would require a re-watch and a lengthy set of challenges, and another reading of Frankenstein. It is not that.
What actually happens is that George Clooney is one of those obnoxious people who tells people what to invest their money in on the stock exchange and is generally a careless individual who seems to think of little else; Lee Gates. His arrogance is established with glee and Clooney is having fun. One room over is Julia Roberts, as Patty Fern, trying to direct another dull shoot of another show. So when Jack O’Connell shows up with a gun and an explosives vest and demands a revolution against the control of the rich over society and an explanation as to why his investment that Gates recommended lost him everything.
This premise is so much fun, and yet, so flawed. Where do you focus? The message about capitalism being bad and providing a potential way to take it down? Conspiracies exploring how stock value changes? A farce about the directing of a TV crew in such circumstances? Portraying the police investigating this punk? There’s so many exciting directions, so which does Foster take us in?
Well, all of them, but not with as much care as each needs. The inequality in society is attacked, but not explored. A murder mystery style unravelling of a recent particular stock crash is an engaging through-line for the whole narrative but never confidently centre-stage. The police investigation is fleeting rather than detailed.
Its to the film’s benefit that perhaps all of the plot eventually sits on the back-seat to allow the relationships between Kyle and Lee and Lee and Patty to develop and become the centre of gravity for the film. Lee tries to convince Kyle that he is actually happier than him, but Kyle retorts with the realities of minimum wage working. Patty tries to keep Lee on track and keep him directed and focused on how to deal with the situation properly, and eventually, they become a very synchronised team. Its a really nice arc and has the most pay-off of anything else in Money Monster. Clooney, Roberts, and O’Connell take things seriously, never playing the situation for laughs, allowing Foster to find relief in the escalation rather than the characters, but somewhat failing to punch through with satire.
Money Monster is thrilling, funny, and is a very fun watch, and flies by in less than 100 minutes. Whilst it never really commits to a proper exploration of the monstrosities of money or the terrorism by the victims angles that it seems to be interested in, it has very rewarding dynamics between characters, that you feel could have been used in a more interesting way were it not falling under its own weight.