Directed by: Jodie Foster – Starring: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O’Connell, Dominic West, Caitriona Balfe, Giancarlo Esposito
There is no denying that Jodie Foster is a fine actress, but her directing efforts have, in my opinion, been rather hit-and-miss. While the premise of this – a TV money guru held hostage live on his show by a man who lost everything thanks to his advice – sounded like it had great potential.
I wasn’t sure if Foster had the directing chops to pull it off. It’s also set in real-time, which can really drag if not handled properly. Thankfully, it turns out she really ‘got it’, and what you have here is a multi-layered movie with well rounded characters, and a surprisingly fast pace, despite most of the action being set in the confines of one location.
George Clooney plays Lee Gates, the aforementioned financial guru. Brash and flash, he makes the stock market sexy for viewers. Unfortunately, he had tipped a company the previous week that has subsequently seen its shares collapse.
As he begins his show and prepares to discuss the crash with the company spokesperson, he finds himself staring down the barrel of a gun, when a disgruntled investor Kyle (Jack O’Connell) invades the studio. What follows is a real-time hostage situation, as Kyle and Lee try to get to the bottom of what happened to the company’s shares, while outside of the studio, people are working furiously to get the innocent victims out safely. All of this happens under the watchful eyes of millions of worldwide viewers, as the entire incident is broadcast live.
We’ve already seen Clooney’s and Roberts’ chemistry in the Oceans movies, and it’s still as strong as ever. However, Clooney also works well with O’Connell here, allowing the younger actor to have his moments, rather than trying to hog each scene. O’Connell gives a great performance, and it is impossible not to feel sympathy for him. However, Clooney also manages to garner some sympathy for Gates, who should be extremely unlikeable. By giving him a depth that you wouldn’t expect, you find yourself rooting for him, while also hating him on some level.
Foster breaks up the studio scenes with cutaways to the action outside, as various people try to save Lee and the crew, and get to the bottom of the shares crash, but everything still happens in real time. There are no liberties taken with that, and it really works to build the tension and keep you glued. There are also some wonderfully tense moments that don’t go where you expect, which also serves to keep things interesting.
Where this movie does fall down is in the extremely complex explanation of what happened to the shares. You will probably need an accounting degree to properly follow it, and even then I’m not sure how much sense it will make.
Other than that muddying the waters, this is an entertaining movie that anyone who has been affected by world financial events of recent years will relate to. You may never have contemplated holding those you felt responsible hostage, but many people have felt the sheer anger and frustration at seeing what they worked for wiped out just like Kyle.
A serious topic but treated with just the right dose of humour to stop it getting too heavy, this will grip you until the end. If nothing else – and trust me on this – it’s worth a look just for George Clooney’s dancing!
In Cinemas Now!