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USA 1987
Directed by
Oliver Stone
125 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Wall Street

Oliver Stone has a knack for taking complicated ideas, breaking them down into simple oppositions and serving them up in a cracking good yarn. Wall Street is no exception and its infamous line. uttered by Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko, “greed is good” has become a catch-all for the moral bankruptcy underpinning corporate capitalism. It was at the time seen very much as a peculiar fault of the 1980s, but who’s kidding who? – wherever there is money to be made non-monetary values are always going to be crushed in the stampede to get a piece of the fatted calf

Charlie Sheen plays Bud Fox, an ambitious  young Manhattan “financial advisor” who wants a fast track to the big money. That track he believes runs through the office of Gordon Gekko, king shark in a sea red with the blood of weaker beasts. Despite advice from his good ol’ workin’ boy Dad (Martin Sheen), a union leader, and a seasoned trooper on the floor (Hal Holbrook) when Gekko finally opens his door, Bud rushes in headlong. Soon he’s up to his ears in money and a sexy girlfriend (Daryl Hannah), an interior designer. But of course he’s made a Faustian pact and when Gekko takes Bud on a killing mission, the young man finds that he’s not as hungry as he thought he was.

As above, the opposing elements of the film are neatly arranged and the story plays out with the kind of reassuring neatness only Hollywood can conspire to arrange. Although Stone knows how to move a story along seamlessly, as drama Wall Street is formulaic. with its ending particularly so. And one almost gasps at the mind-boggling tackiness of Hannah's interior design efforts, not to mention her wardrobe, hair and make-up. Were the '80s really this ugly? Stone certainly wants us to think so
On the upside Michael Douglas who won the Best Actor Oscar that year although he was really in a support role, is terrific as Gekko. For all that however both he and Stone got very lucky that the 1987 “Black Monday” stock market crash occurred only a couple of months prior to the film’s release, thus giving the film the reputation of representing a decade and making Gordon Gekko its icon.

FYI: Stone delivered a not-quite-as-good sequel in 2010, Wsll Street - Money Never Sleeps.




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