I just read some of the preliminary details on the upcoming Wall Street sequel from Oliver Stone over on Dealbreaker and I’m physically incapable of not chiming in on this one.
I’ll quote Gordon Gecko himself to let you know how I feel about a sequel to the greatest movie about business ever made:
“Mixed emotions, buddy. Like Larry Wildman going off a cliff in my new Maserati.”
In a nutshell, the plot goes like this, supposedly:
Gordon Gecko (Michael Douglas, thankfully) has served his time and is now a nobody on The Street. He sees a disaster brought on by out-of-control short-selling coming down the pike but no one will listen to him.
In the meantime, his estranged daughter is dating a hotshot trader (played by Shia LaBeouf, for big box office receipts). Shia’s mentor kills himself and LaBeouf’s character enlists Gecko’s help in avenging his death against an evil, global short-selling hedgie played by Javier Bardem (who is The Man).
OK, so I’ll vent now like every other crybaby with an internet connection and a spare 5 minutes.
I was ten years old when the original came out in the fall of 1987. I’m not sure how I got into the theater, but the film was literally my first taste of Wall Street terminology, bravado, energy and mechanics. Before that, the concepts of stocks, trading, investing and, to some extent, money itself didn’t mean anything to me at all.
As with many guys of my generation, I re-watched the movie again and again over the years on TV and on VHS and eventually made the decision that I wanted to work on The Street one day. And here I am, 22 years later.
Not that the movie was the only reason or even the main reason I do what I do, but goddamn if I don’t feel like Gecko sometimes after taking a monster profit on a trade or landing a big deal.
And Bud Fox was a broker! Not an analyst, a trader, an investment banker or a human resources manager…he was a broker. Granted, he went bad, but he was a killer before the temptations began. Sheen’s performance made you want to pick up the phone and “bag the elephant”.
So with that preamble, I’ll run down my list of 5 things I’m not happy about with the sequel so far.
Full disclosure – I’m gonna go see it no matter what, I don’t care if Gecko’s selling Slap Chops on an infomercial.
Problem 1: Shia Labeouf is ok, I can take him or leave him, but c’mon. I don’t even keep up with the young actors these days and there are 5 of them I can name off the top of my head that would be better choices. He was in that Indiana Jones sequel and it sucked (not his fault, but still) and he already is the face of the Transformers franchise. Couldn’t they have gone a bit edgier?
Problem 2: Gordon Gecko’s deal with the hotshot is his help against the hedge fund villain in exchange for the kid’s help to win back his daughter’s affections. WTF can that be about? The real Gecko had no heart. And warning us of the impending danger of short-sellers? What would Gecko care? So this is another “He really changed in the joint” redemption stories? Sucks. Boring. Predictable. The castration of Gordon Gecko.
Problem 3: I get the need to keep things current, but the villain is a short-seller? Ooooooh. Hopefully Bardem will bring whatever crazy was left over from No Country For Old Men, but really, we can defeat this guy with an Uptick Rule and a no-borrow email. Weak. Ripped from the Headlines is good for a Law & Order episode, not this.
Problem 4: No Charlie Sheen. Seriously, is there a single fan of the original that wouldn’t want to see where Bud Fox‘s life is now? To me, that’s the real story to show. We can live without Darryl Hannah‘s character, but not Charlie Sheen’s! Better at least be a cameo.
Problem 5: Supposedly the studio head calling the shots on the final product is a guy named Tom Rothman. The hardcore film geeks hate this guy for his disproportionate willingness to sacrifice art for commerce. One commenter on a film site put it thusly:
“I have concerns about this sequel…its being made under Tom Rothman’s regime. He’ll demand cuts, a PG-13 rating, shorter running time, change sets, and dumb down the financial lingo so it won’t go over the heads o the 13-25 year old demographic.”
If they pull that PG 13 sh#t with Wall Street, they’re toast. I know the 14 year old girls will want to buy a ticket to see Shia, but if you’re going to resurrect a property this revered, do it right and make it for the fans of the original, not their daughters.
OK, end of rant. I’ll take all the spoilers that surface on the film in stride and reserve real judgment for the the release next February (although I’ll keep you guys updated here on TRB).
I just hope the sequel is even half as intelligent, riveting, character-driven and meaningful as the original.
Don’t screw it up, Stone.