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5-11-2016 MOVIE REVIEW: MONEY MONSTER (2016)

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What excitement I had anticipating an early screening of Jodie Foster’s fourth full length directed feature “Money Monster” starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts was completely squandered ten minutes into the film when television producer Patty Fenn (Roberts) is seen talking through a headset to stock-honcho and show host Lee Gates (Clooney) about what to say and how to anchor his show “Money Monster” which is syndicated on primetime television all over the world. Foundationally this film lacked originality and from the get-go the plot piggybacked off the 1974 hijack thriller “The Taking of Pelham 123” and the remake that subsequently followed in 2009; the only difference being 2016’s “Money Monster” takes place in a newsroom instead of a train.

“Money Monster” is set in the present day and in real time, meaning that the ninety-eight minute runtime of the film is the same length of time the events unfold in the picture there-within. This isn’t the first instance films have been produced in this manner and similar examples can be found in Sidney Lumet’s “Dog Day Afternoon” and Richard Linklater’s latest pictures “Before Sunset” and “Boyhood”; all-said however, “Money Monster” takes off rather quickly.

Within the first couple of scenes audiences go from seeing the show’s host Lee Gates on top of the world to begging for mercy from an armed gunman named Kyle (Jack O’Connell) who, after taking a $60,000 inheritance from his deceased mother, invests all of it in a hedge fund managed by an unscrupulous CEO after watching Gates’ television show. When the fund plunges taking an $800 million dollar loss Kyle sneaks into the shows headquarters during a live recording and holds Gates hostage demanding restitution and most importantly answers.

From here on out one would expect the picture to turn into a gripping thriller –one that would keep audiences on the edge of their seats, but instead “Money Monster” turns into a Friday night rerun of “Law and Order” with cliché after cliché and the MacGuffin (if you can call it that) –that is the use of the suicide-vest- turns out to be incredibly predictable, given the circumstances the characters are put in.

I don’t blame Clooney or Roberts for the failure of this picture as much as I do Jodie Foster who claims she and screen writers worked on the script for two years. All told a rough draft of this picture could have been put together over the course of coffee on a single weekend that’s just how blatant I feel it borrows from the proceeding films aforementioned.

Despite some moments of dry humor, “Money Monster” is completely predictable and offers hardly any cheap thrills and/or suspense. I give “Money Monster” 2 out of 4 stars.

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