Cast: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O’Connell, Dominic West, Giancarlo Esposito, Caitriona Balfe
Director: Jodie Foster
With this edgy hostage drama which releases in India, a day after Cannes, the Oscar winning actress Jodie Foster, firms up her reputation as a helmer of standing and joins the ranks of Clint Eastwood and Robert Redford. I don’t remember when I last saw the very handsome Mr Clooney clown for the cameras, but Ms Foster makes him take a hilarious turn. And how!
He is in his element as Lee Gates, a jaded finance guru who gives stock tips as host of a television show “Money Monster.” His cynical attitude is sharply jolted (an understatement this) when a highly disturbed young man called Kyle (Jack O’Connell, intense) Budwell sneaks onto the set during a live telecast and takes Gates hostage. He tells Lee that he lost 60,000 grand on one of his tips and wants an answer. That sum,we learn as the narrative plays out, is the legacy of Kyle’s dead mother which went into the purchase of a house. Gone, all gone.
And now, with a baby on the way, he’s as mad as hell and won’t take it anymore. And he wants answers from the management of Ibis Clear Capital, which mysteriously plummeted, losing $800 million in a single day for small investors. As Kyle straps a bomb on Gates, the show’s director Patty (Julia Roberts) realises that things are not aboveboard and Kyle deserves an explanation from Ibis’ CEO, Walt Camby (Dominic West).
The film moves at a relentless pace which grips the viewer even as it leaves little scope for Foster to flesh out such other characters as Julia and Kyle’s girlfriend. Like 1976’s Network, Foster’s film exposes the superficiality (and influence) of the TV medium. “It’s not the Chinese or the Muslims. It’s THEM and the TV studios…(cheating us)” the angry Kyle tells his viewers. In real life post the meltdown of 2008, Wall street went scot free. Some crooks even got lucrative teaching assignments in Ivy League colleges.