Who's In It: Michael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf, Carey Mulligan, Josh Brolin, Frank Langella
The Basics: Michael Douglas is still Gordon Gekko, only now it's 2008 and he's fresh out of jail, penniless and allegedly reformed. This is a kinder, gentler Gordon Gekko than the one we know best, a man who dresses like a professor, writes books about how greed is actually not good, and yearns to reconnect with his estranged daughter, Winnie (Carey Mulligan). But she's not having it, so Gordon reluctantly teams up with her Wall Street trader boyfriend (Shia LaBeouf), who's beginning to suspect a massive financial meltdown is coming and also wants revenge against the man (Josh Brolin) who drove his mentor to suicide.
What's The Deal: Twenty three years after the original Wall Street epitomized '80s greed and excess, Gordon Gekko has gone a bit soft -- and so has director Oliver Stone. This long-awaited sequel gets some things right, especially whenever Michael Douglas sneaks that patented Gekko spark into scenes. Too bad Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps spends far too little time with its only interesting character. Instead, Stone attempts (and fails) to deftly navigate a meandering plot full of backroom intrigue, corrupt dealings, relationship drama, and a ridiculously inexplicable Ducati race in the forest just to tell us what we already know: those money-grubbing suits who caused the financial crisis deserve to get theirs, but the only place we'll likely ever see them punished is in the movies.
See It For The Performances: The glimmer of vintage Gekko in Douglas's eye. The maturity in Shia LaBeouf's first adult character. Carey Mulligan's uncanny ability to cry/weep/make her chin tremble while tears well up in her eyes like adorable little waterfalls of pain. Watching these actors flex their chops is the only thing that makes Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps watchable.
What Makes It So Interminable: Just when you're ready for the movie to end, it keeps going for another half hour. Re-edited without the plethora of metaphorical insert shots (one banking house fails and soon enough, more follow -- cut to a row of falling dominoes for emphasis!) and speed-ramped views of the New York skylines, it could have been a much tighter film.
The Songs I Never Want to Hear Again: The plaintive acoustic tunes from David Byrne and Brian Eno that comprise the film's soundtrack. Many of them are from Byrne and Eno's 2008 album Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, but you know what I don't want to hear in a movie about Gordon Gekko? Songs with lyrics about "going home" and living and feelings.