Money Monster – 3/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

Money MonsterMoney Monster – 3/5 – Littered among the many blockbusters that happen during the summer are the wonderful but overlooked ‘smaller’ films.  These become a worthy distraction from the ‘over-the-top’ sensation that is eye candy.  Money Monster is one of those smaller films that provides entertainment through its base as a thriller.  Being that simple kind of story, it provides something that’s common to the genre.  Even if there are a lot of predictable elements throughout; getting to the point of the conclusion makes Money Monster an amusing ride.

Premise: A TV show Host and his produce are put in an unexpected situation; where they must find out the truth before lives are lost.

There are some notable names in this picture.  You have:

George Clooney as Lee Gates

Julia Roberts as Patty Fenn

Jack O’Connell as Kyle Budwell

Being a thriller; the characterization of all the cast (including the side characters) are left to become ‘players’ to the plot.  There isn’t much backstory or depth provided; just enough information to place the characters in their ‘slotted’ position.  With the elements based in a procedural method; the characters are meant to attract you to the drama at hand.  It leaves you to witness how ‘certain’ aspects are supposed to be connected.  What this does is leave the actors/actresses themselves to provide something gripping.  Being left to acting ability, these three mentioned do a great job in providing something that is worthy.  There’s a lot of cliché banter and some predicable situations of drama and heroism (to an extent); but it is enough to keep the audience engaged.  Clooney is a master at his craft as he personifies a TV Show host in Lee Gates.  His pompous but caring attitude provides a welcoming contrast to the producer of the show Patty Fenn, played by Julia Roberts.  Roberts contrasting stern, focused nature personality helps fuel that ‘banter’ between the characters.  It creates a dynamic that plays into the plot; especially when the hostage crisis takes effect.  When Jack O’Connell’s Kyle Budwell sabotages the show, he adds to the thrilling element.  Showing his brash attitude and ‘overall’ disdain for what the show represents, the added vigor compels the audience to stick with what is going on.  Even when these three come across as plot driven elements; they are held up through the charm and individualism of what they present on screen.  With the rest of the cast, they slide into the trap of becoming standard plot devices.  There isn’t much need to go in depth of who, why or what they are doing; it becomes obvious on screen.

The direction follows the common outline of a thriller.  In the basic concept of this kind of storytelling; there’s always three things that play throughout:

  • Purpose driving the character to find answers
  • Hidden agendas
  • Procedural plot elements

As these three elements influence the film, the director has to find a way to entice the viewer to stay engaged.  To do that, the director must bring out the elusive raw nature of the story to the forefront is important.   Overall, the director (Jodie Foster) does a good job in providing some enticing thrills through the tone and theme.  From the beginning, there is a sense of franticness with the quick introduction to the characters.  The quickness of the tone blends with the theme that is based around investments, family and the situation of ‘losing money’ through unideal situations.  This becomes a plot point that drives all the characters to converge on a specific episode that is being filmed by Lee Gates (as host).  As the show begins, Kyle Budwell finds his way on set and takes Lee Gates hostage.  From here, it’s a race against time for the studio to find answers into why Budwell lost all his money through a computer glitch in the investment company.  This is where all the puzzle pieces begin to unfold.  From this point, all three aspects of a thriller take place: the purpose driving the characters, heavy foreshadowing of the ‘hidden agenda’ of the investment company’s glitch and the procedural methods used to link all the evidence coming forth.  What you learn is that Lee and his producer Patty feel ‘urged’ to find the answers that Budwell presents.  Even when they are being held hostage, they see there is something uneasy with the glitch that happens in the investment company.  They decided to utilize all their resources they have to lift the veil of the conspiracy.  As the film progresses, plot elements come across in a procedural fashion by using a twofold method.  In this method, these items are ‘conveniently’ presented through setup scenarios, but don’t become important until later truths definitions of ‘why’ they are there.  Within the first twenty minutes, there’s heavy foreshadowing that happens.  As this happens, there isn’t any effort in trying to hide the proof of the outcome of the company’s ‘hidden agenda’.  It becomes way to obvious of what and why money was lost (behind the scenes).  Even if the predictability dulls the truth that will come, it’s the path getting there that becomes thrilling.  Watching as the hostages become enthralled by the purpose driving Budwell, the conviction of the characters, witty banter and the expositional situations intertwine to bring you to the edge of your seat.  As the story starts to become clear by the missing puzzle pieces, it’s the scenes between the characters that provide the element of raw intensity.  As the story unfolds, the emotional toll that drives these characters adds to the unsettling nature of society’s raw unpredictability.  This creates twists and turns that ironically add real connection to why all that is happening can be practical.  Those themes of investment and money harken to the quickness of the tone, as the added draw of ‘pushed the brink’ and ‘losing it all’ adds real feeling to the characters.  As all the puzzle pieces come together in the final act, the situations become tense.  Once the climax hits, it unfolds in within the common trope of tragedy and answers.  In the end; the real tragedy unfolds in the thematic draw of society’s unapologetic nature of life and people.  You come to see (in the final scene) all of this becomes a sideshow till the next time.

The cinematography isn’t anything to clamor over.  With majority of the movie taking place in a TV studio, it doesn’t add any strong value to the characters or themes.  It is that rare case of the visuals being left as a plot device.  The score is unnoticeable throughout.

Money Monster might just be another ‘run-of-the-mill’ thriller; but it is one that stays entertaining throughout.  If you’re a fan of these kinds of films, it is worth checking out.  I say this is worth a matinee price at best, but nothing more than that.

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