Anthony's Film Review
Wall Street (1987)
Oliver Stone directs an engaging inside look at the dark side of stock trading...
I saw the 1987 movie Wall Street because I could not help but notice one thing about it. It's a film about playing the stock market game and essentially one of the few cinematic portrayals of Wall Street I could think of. You would think that there would be more films about Wall Street. After all, there are a lot of things to talk about when it comes to America, including but not limited to politics, war, crime, racism, and everyday life, and anything you can think of that is uniquely American pretty much has many Hollywood movies about it. Yet, the world of business and finance is featured in only a handful of movies, at least as far as I know.
Still, if you have to see just one fictional cinematic portrayal of this subject, I would certainly recommend the 1987 film Wall Street. It's nicely directed by Oliver Stone who probably had the same idea of portraying that glorious financial casino where investors can play. I admire the film's realism in capturing the players of the Wall Street game. There are frantic traders and brokers and the cool investors who get ahead strategically. There are idealistic individuals as well as corrupt executives. Watching the movie is almost like watching actual footage of a typical day of stock trading.
To illustrate, let me describe the first few scenes of the movie. It begins with Charlie Sheen as stock broker Bud Fox as he navigates a crowded subway and street to his workplace, a crowded brokerage firm. Things are calm for a moment until 9:30 a.m. when the opening bell rings at the New York Stock Exchange. People are running around and shouting on the trading floor and at the broker offices until 4:00 p.m. when the closing bell signals the end of trading. Near the end, Fox briefly expresses his wish to be on the other side of trading.
This desire is reinforced by the next two scenes. Fox visits his father, a mechanic for an airline, played by Martin Sheen. The dialogue here is a straightforward discussion about the different ways to achieve sizable incomes. Later, Fox manages to have a five-minute meeting with legendary investor Gordon Gekko, played by Michael Douglas. In this sequence, Fox is trying hard to convince Gekko that he can be valuable as a financial ally. Just when things look hopeless, Fox gives Gekko a useful stock tip, one that would benefit both men.
The rest of the film follows an obvious trend. There is a rush of excitement as Fox becomes increasingly successful, as illustrated by his capital gains and his materialistic expenditures. He also spends time with a love interest named Darien, played by Darryl Hannah. Although I was able to correctly predict what kind of ending the story led up to, I still found the movie to be engaging all the way through. It's as if I myself was in Fox's position.
With that, I'd like to talk about the performances of the two leading stars. Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko is outstanding. He plays a guy who is simultaneously fierce as an investor, believing that greed is good, but also seductive to anyone who looks up to him. In fact, I think the character's last name is appropriate because he is slimy like a little green creature. As for Charlie Sheen as Bud Fox, he's also good. He plays the naive broker who just wants to get ahead and is easily sucked into Gekko's world of inside trading. By the end of the movie, I applauded the work of these two actors.
Wall Street is an engrossing film throughout and especially in the last twenty minutes. I also appreciate how I, a person without a background in business or finance, could still enjoy this movie. The stock trading terminology often went over my head, but I still got the gist of when good or bad things were happening. So for all of the reasons I've described above, I thank Oliver Stone for making this film. It's a memorable trip inside the intriguing world of Wall Street.
For more information about Wall Street, visit the Internet Movie Database.
In addition, check out my review of Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.