Posted May 31 2016

Money Monster - This Movie Mad City Rocks

Dir: Jodie Foster

Starring George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O’Connell, Dominic West

Seriously, does nobody remember Costa Gavras' Mad City? John Travolta’s disgruntled working class guy holds Dustin Hoffman’s TV news guy hostage live on camera? Really? Nobody??

Oh well, Jodie Foster’s latest as director treads similar water, but does so with a timely satirical edge and a brilliant trio of performances. It also benefits from playing out more or less in real time, and shows Foster to be a fine economical helmer, topping out at a brisk – but perfectly paced - 90 minutes.

Clooney goes from shallow smarm to concerned reawakened humanity as the facile “Money Monster” TV host taken hostage by O’Connell’s working stiff who has lost everything due to one of Clooney’s financial predictions. Roberts plays the voice in George’s ear, as the director keeping the show on air.

And all three are tremendous. Clooney moves from the avoiding eye contact – with his captor and the camera both – victim, to splendid, commanding form, reminding us that for all his charm and on screen persona, the man really does have range. Roberts takes the less showier part, but keeps the emotion of the piece just controlled under the surface. And both of them stand back and allow O’Connell to deliver his best performance to date, finding the heart and complexity of the on the surface simple man with a grudge. It really is terrific work from him, and a turn that further announces him to the world – world, take notice!

Yes there are shades of Dog Day Afternoon, Network and even Mad City (remember that?) But more than anything, Foster’s accomplished satirical thriller is as much a hark back and a shout out to those kind of films that Hollywood doesn’t seem able or willing to make any more as it is one that shares plot DNA with the aforementioned.

It’s by no means a perfect film, but it holds it own all the way along and – thankfully – sticks to its guns all the way to the end.


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