Skip to content

Jodie Foster Cashes In With 'Money Monster'

George Clooney, Julia Roberts and Dominic West costar in a winning Wall Street thriller

(Video) Money Monster Movie Trailer: A fast-paced Wall Street thriller directed by Jodie Foster and starring George Clooney, Julia Roberts, and Dominic West

Rating: R

Run time: 1 hour 38 minutes

Stars: Caitriona Balfe, George Clooney, Giancarlo Esposito, Jack O'Connell, Julia Roberts, Dominic West

Director: Jodie Foster

If Standard & Poor's gave investment grades to movies, Money Monster would get a AAA rating. This fast-paced Wall Street thriller — no, those last three words are not an oxymoron — is a real winner.

Like The Big Short before it, Money Monster takes a complex financial topic and brings it down to a level the average Jane or Joe can comprehend. This time, the plot centers on the intricate computer algorithms that control the world's money markets. Sounds a bit dry, yet it's anything but. Director Jodie Foster, now 53 and with two Oscars under her belt, grabs us right from the opening bell and deftly keeps the tension high until close of business.

George Clooney and Julia Roberts in 'Money Monster'

Courtesy of Atsushi Nishijima/TriStar Pictures

George Clooney stars as Lee Gates, host of a financial-advice TV show, and Julia Roberts plays his boss.

This is the fourth feature film Foster has directed, and the woman knows how to make her star power shine: George Clooney (who also produced the picture) and Julia Roberts confidently and comfortably play Lee Gates — the bombastic host of Money Monster, a daily financial-advice TV show — and Patty Fenn, his long-suffering producer.

As events get under way, Gates and Fenn are about to go live with an episode analyzing the recent global meltdown of a conglomerate that managed to lose $800 million overnight. (The reported cause? A "glitch in the algorithm.") But they're forced to tear up the script when a frantic stranger brandishing a gun and a suicide vest sneaks onto the set and takes the crew hostage. Turns out he's a young investor, Kyle Budwell (Jack O'Connell of Unbroken fame), who has lost his life savings to that alleged "glitch" — and now he's demanding why.

As the fictional Financial News Network (think Bloomberg or CNBC) airs the unfolding events, the world tunes in to watch New York City's finest show up in force. Other TV stations broadcast their own coverage. And the cat-and-mouse game between Budwell and Gates escalates into an O.J.-style White Bronco situation, with groups of strangers huddling around television sets worldwide, galvanized by the prospect of seeing something terrible happen on live TV.

Meanwhile, out in the movie theater, we are held in thrall, as well. As the well-structured plot twists and turns, the action jumps to the streets of Manhattan, and — no spoiler — the tension builds to a fascinating climax that will leave you wishing the world were a better place.

Clooney is in his element. Playing a man who has everything — and nothing — he strikes just the right blend of arrogance, pathos and downright fear. Roberts turns in an equally strong performance as his capable, no-nonsense boss. And O'Connell's stellar incarnation of a not-really-so-bad-after-all "villain" cements him as one of Hollywood's best young talents (he's all of 25).

With its sizzling script, across-the-board acting chops and deft direction, Money Monster nets out as a riveting thriller. Among its many lagniappes, it's also peppered with moments when the whole audience guffaws. Not an easy tightrope to walk, but Foster and her cast — including Dominic West (The Wire, The Hour) as a skeevy financier and Caitriona Balfe (Outlander) as his spin doctor — pull it off with aplomb.

Jenny Peters is a Los Angeles-based entertainment journalist.

Join the Discussion

0 | Add Yours

Please leave your comment below.

You must be logged in to leave a comment.