In 1987, when Wall Street was in post-production, two men were at the top of their game. Michael Douglas had just embodied the fictional Gordon Gekko, a financial god, master of the Wall Street universe. Oliver Stone, the director, was putting the finishing touches on a movie completely of its time. The movie has come to stand as a time capsule to late 80s excess. Stone didn’t know it, but his movie was to be a harbinger and explanation of the financial collapse that struck Wall Street two months before the movie premiered. Wall Street stood at the precipice of one financial just like its sequel, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, tells the story of the country’s financial institutions on the brink of another collapse. Douglas returns as Gordon Gekko, Stone returns as the director, and that is where the comparisons end. Go watch it at 123Movies for free, by the way.
Gekko Sans Ego
The Gekko of the sequel is a shadow of the man who once espoused all that was good in greed. It is 2008; Gekko is seven years removed from the prison sentence he received for insider trading. No longer an insider at anything, he nips at the fringes of the new financial elite. Now an author and mentor to his estranged daughter’s fiancé, Gekko warns of another impending collapse. He’s successful enough but his ego and pride have long been stripped from him.
Stone Past Prime
Also stripped of his talents, the director, Stone. While luck may have played a role in timing the original Wall Street with the ’87 stock market clash, it is clear Stone was ahead of the trend. The Wall Street sequel has been released two years after the 2008 financial collapse. Like Madonna, Stone was once ahead of the curve but is now reduced to desperately chasing trends that have already passed. Unfortunately for Stone, chasing trends is not all he has been reduced to doing to make a buck. Product placement is downright glaring in this movie. While the practice has been common in cinema for a while, the shameless plug for Heineken is clumsy and embarrassing. Even more embarrassing for Stone is his awkward use of special effects and other cinematic devices. His use of the devices and his use of some cameo appearances borders on camp and do nothing but detract from this movie.
It might have been fun to further compare the decline of both Gekko and Stone, but there really is no comparison. Douglas plays this older Gekko as a man cast out of his Eden. He slithers in the grasses just outside of his nirvana. There is no doubt, if and when Gekko gives in to temptation, he will rise to his former glory. For Stone, there is nothing but doubt he will ever regain his former stature. His cinematic decline has been painful and apparent for over a decade now. There was hope revisiting one of his great achievements might have been a reawakening.
But in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, the wake-up call was not received.