Pretty good movie overall. First half was nothing special but it got better as it went along.
Exactly the movie you think it is, but not the movie you want it to be.
There are moments in this movie where the great movie it could've been peek out... They're fleeting, here, but they're worth savoring, and they happen often enough to make it worth your while.
One of the worst ways to make a cult movie is to set out to make a cult movie.
I work in unrelated industries in NYC (first UN, now econ growth) and was blogging on NYC development from 2005 and wrote posts on the fairly obvious growing storm.The film has a beautiful look, pacing, casting, acting, gripping story, what appear to be the main thrusts are all there. But three are not, that I could see, and would have made for an 11 if they were.First, the great underlying crime and real victims. The crime is what the Countrywide Mortgage Company under Angelo Mozilo was up to, extending mortgages initially at low payments to poorer folks, way too many of them Hispanic or Black, and then jacking up the rates after around 5 years, thus causing giant waves of defaults and foreclosures on millions of homes. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin was in this game too. He foreclosed on a 90 year old woman over 27 cents and over 50,000 in total. The toxic sub-prime "paper" that resulted (these mortgages bundled with more highly rated mortgages) was the cancerous cause of the situation seen in the film. Merrill Lynch/Bank of America were forced to buy Countrywide as the cost of their being kept alive; Bear Sterns and Lehman Brothers (the models for this film) had less luck. Google this 2016 article in the New York Times for more. "Countrywide Mortgage Devastation Lingers as Ex-Chief Moves On".Second, it was widely known from 2000 on that the derivatives market was a house of cards. MOZILO HIMSELF SAID SO!! Around 2003. The mentality in the banks was "So what? We are smart enough to be the first out the door."The spark that started the race to get out was the property market flattening out around 2006, as seen by a whole lot of quants (who often did warn the deaf ears higher up.) Third, the regulators were asleep at the wheel. Are they mentioned in the film? It was a bit hard to miss them, they dont work in an ivory tower in Washington. They are embedded in every bank! But they are atoms and the whole gestalt was not being seen.
Harrison Tweed (Top Dawg)
The story behind this biography-drama-thriller is the only thing that kept me interested. It was well written to play out over such a short period of time.Where it fell short for me was assembling such a great A-list cast that seemed they were forced to play their roles. I felt that not one of these A-listers where passionate enough in their character, and all seemed rather stale. The only exception (and not by a large margin), was Jeremy Irons, who was the only convincing character in this film.The pace was very slow, and perhaps adding an appropriate score may have made it feel faster, as it felt there was just too much blank/boring time in between scenes.So it's a 7/10 mainly for the interesting writing.
I had read good reviews of this film, and combined with the subject matter which interested me, I was expecting to enjoy it a lot. To be honest I was a little disappointed. The whole thing just came off as rather flat and "bloodless" to me. I guess "bloodless" is perhaps what the movie makers were going for in a sense -- depicting the rather cold-blooded reality of a big financial corporation on Wall street. I just could not especially get excited by the action of a bunch of people in suits grimly talking about what they seemed to all see as a foregone conclusion, the moves they would have to make, etc. That said, I do feel that the film has an important message at least: through so clearly depicting the utterly immoral (or better, should I say "Amoral"- a world that where it seems "morality" is not even as something real), the utterly non-moral world of Finance Capitalism. A bunch of people trying to make money because they just believe that is the only thing there is to do.
What an excellent cast for this movie that depicts how the Wall Street collapse of 2008-9 could have been triggered. The firm seems to have overextended itself. Now what were they going to do about it?This film featured excellent acting, and tight script, and really strong character development. You really felt you learned some of the key parts of each person within the swift 1hr40min film.It was interesting to see how the chain of command was played out, with Zach Quinto reporting to their boss Will (Paul Bettan) who reports to Sam (Kevin Spacey) who reports to Jared (Simon Baker) who finally reports to CEO Jeremy Irons. But in the end, the CEO got the straight story directly from the young Quinto. The director JC Chandor did a terrific job depicting the cut throat life on Wall St, layoffs, big money, fascination with salaries, it all revolves around money. No apologies were made for making the money, or losing the money. Perhaps you learned the most from the CEO's chat with Sam at the end. In the end, it seems with sad acceptance that we all are slaves to money in some sort. the movie is telling us that there are always winners, and losers, and you don't need to apologize for being either. This was a far superior film compared to the trashy Wolf of Wall St. Margin Call makes you think a lot about what is really important in your life at the end of the day. Money, sure, but other stuff needs to play a key role too.You should really enjoy this film - great acting, great screenplay, great direction.