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  • Wall Street
    • Wall Street
    • Runtime:126 min
    • Release Date:2017-01-22 19:24:47
    • Director: Oliver Stone
    • Genres: Crime, Drama
    • Studio:


*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Michael Douglas gives a good performance as money mogul 'Gordon Gekko'
in this Oliver Stone-directed film.

Charlie Sheen is miscast in the part of 'Bud', Gekko's protégé, though
his father Martin is fine as a mechanic. The casting of Darryl Hannah
as Gekko's mistress is the most peculiar thing about the film. The
camera shots of her body's 'voluptuousness' just don't make it (she's
not voluptuous in the least – in fact, she appears anorexic), and her
hairstyle makes her look like a 15-dollar whore walking down Main

Lots of financial talk and the eventuality of a corporate brouhaha
between Gekko and Bud can't obscure the obvious assumption that Gekko
would have never been stupid enough to put so much trust in this
small-time dweeb.


Oliver Stone's Wall Street is perhaps the best – though not in terms of
overall quality – example of how his more interesting work combines a
very personal touch with an accessible Hollywood style. Just a year
before, he'd pulled off Platoon, an Oscar-winning masterpiece that some
regard as the ultimate depiction of the Vietnam war precisely because
its very classic story – that of a soldier losing his innocence amidst
all the brutality – is rooted in the director's own combat experiences.
Wall Street takes that same template – and the same leading man,
Charlie Sheen – and applies it to 1980s corporate America, again with a
more personal connection for Stone: his father Lou was a stockbroker
during the 1929 market meltdown, and the filmmaker dedicated his attack
on capitalism to his recently deceased parent.

Not surprisingly, father figures play a major part in the movie's
script, as the young and ambitious Bud Fox (Sheen), a young broker who,
in his desperate quest for the top, is torn between the values of his
father Carl (the actor's real-life dad Martin), a blue-collar union
president, and those of his personal hero, one Gordon Gekko (Michael
Douglas), whose ethos is best summed up by the famous phrase "Greed,
for want of a better word, is good". Bud sticks to that same philosophy
and appears to enjoy all the perks – money and a hot girlfriend (Daryl
Hannah) that come with it, but his new lifestyle, which also includes
some less legal activities, gradually drifts his apart from his family
and his former colleagues (John C. McGinley, Hal Holbrook), until he
realizes something has to be done about Gekko and his unorthodox

Deftly combining style (just look at the use of split-screen) and
substance, the film pulls off the remarkable trick of providing a
sufficiently in-depth portrait of the workings of the stock market
while always focusing on the human story at its core, thus enabling the
audience to relate to the characters without necessarily understanding
everything they're talking about. Its sharp look at the more cynical
attitude of the '80s remains very relevant to this day, adding to the
timeless feel of the story while at the same time grounding the content
in a very specific context, paving the way for some heavy criticism of
the yuppie mentality (see also a rather different take on the matter,
namely Bret Easton Ellis' ferociously satirical American Psycho).

And there lies the movie's greatest paradox: its open critique of
quick-buck traders was (and is) misinterpreted by people who claim to
have begun a Wall Street career because of the Gekko character, an
ironic fact since he's the "villain" of the piece. The paradox can be
explained by the fact that, shady as he may be, Gekko remains a
riveting screen presence, justly rewarded with a Best Actor Oscar for
Douglas, who truly established himself as a bona fide star with this
picture and eats up every single scene he's in. Not that it's all about
him: the two Sheens supply most of the emotional content, while
McGinley and Holbrook are excellent sources of comic relief and elderly
wisdom respectively. And Terence Stamp is impeccable as always. If
there's a problem – in fact, the only significant one – in this
guy-dominated film, it's the women: Daryl Hannah has since gone on
record stating she was miscast (hard to disagree), and Sean Young
doesn't bring much to the table, either.

Bottom line: Wall Street is a very good Hollywood product made with
great care and a genuine passion for the material. A good story well
told, paired with a riveting look at the dark side of capitalism and
the stock market's very own Darth Vader: role model or hate object,
Gordon Gekko is as fine an '80s character as they come.


After having shot into the top directors' circle with the Oscar-winning
Vietnam War film PLATOON, director Oliver Stone could have made
practically any film he wanted. But unwilling to take the easy way out
and do a film strictly for the money, he instead made a film about
money itself–the lure it has on us, and how it can do funny and
sometimes sinister things. That film was WALL STREET, released in late
1987, and extremely timely in its day as it came out shortly after what
was then the biggest financial crash in America since 1929.

There's no real need to recite too much of the plot details, only to
say that a hotshot young stockbroker (Charlie Sheen) falls under the
spell of corporate raider Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas, in a steely
performance that rightly won him the Best Actor Oscar for 1987) and
thus sells out everything about himself, including the pride of his own
father (Martin Sheen), for the love of money and greed. What is
consistently intriguing even to this day (and something that was
continued in the 2010 sequel WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS) is the
combination of superlative acting and snappy and (unsurprisingly)
sometimes profane dialog (by Stone and co-writer Stanley Weiser) in
which the New York financial world is shown to be the world's biggest
casino, and Douglas' Gordon Gekko, who tells the folks at Teldar Paper
how he plans to resurrect that failing business in his legendary "Greed
Is Good" speech, being the world-class dealer and destroyer.

Stone can be faulted for having his two lead actresses (Daryl Hannah;
Sean Young) just be like side dishes to the corporate wheeling and
dealing that's being done for all to see (he would get better in this
area after a while). But it never fails to see Douglas at his most
chilling best as Gekko, while both Charlie and Martin Sheen give good
performances as son and father now at odds; and the film also has good
turns from Hal Holbrook (who almost never gave a bad performance in his
life), James Karen, Terence Stamp, and, returning from PLATOON, John C.

In short, WALL STREET is as pertinent a film now in the age of
corporate meltdowns as it was in the age of Reagan. It's a film that
you'll never forget.

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