Wall Street (1987)


Not much has changed in the past two decades, except for maybe Charlie Sheen. He’s changed a whole damn lot.

Enterprising stockbroker Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) falls under the enticing spell of Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), an unabashedly greedy Wall Street arbitrageur who tutors him in the unscrupulous tactics that put the corporate raider on top. But when Gekko embroils his protégé in an insider-trading scheme that may risk the jobs of kith and kin, Fox develops a conscience and decides to turn the tables.

This one was written and directed by a favorite of mine, Oliver Stone. This was around the time he was hot off  the huge Oscar winner, Platoon, and although this one isn’t as great as that one, it’s still alright.

As director, Stone knows what he’s doing but it’s all pretty simple with this film despite good camera-work that moved all-over-the-place, to give us the feeling of being busy that these stockbrokers always had. But when it comes to writing, Stone has been better.

The dialogue is alright but there are way too many lines that I felt were just too “movie-made”. All of the dialogue feels like it could have easily been quotable, but I just didn’t think people talked like these guys were with all their macho hammy bullshit sayings. I think it was more the 80’s to blame, rather than Stone himself because I guess what they thought was cool to say back in the 80’s, just seems lame and cheesy now.

The only line from this film that anybody really quotes, hell, even remembers is “Greed is good”, which is no surprise because the whole film practically is about that line and it’s the truth which is why this film still works in today’s world. There is still corporate greed running all over the world and it’s a shame that after almost 23 years later, that this shit is still happening and still around but I guess that’s what really matters about this film. We can still watch it today and have as much of an connection to it today, as anybody would have had then.

Michael Douglas is very good in this role as the evil, Gordon Gekko. Right as soon as you see this dude with the slick hair, the huge white collar, the suspenders, and the cell phone that’s the size of my head, you know he’s a total scumbag, but Douglas does a great job at making a scumbag look good. Douglas knows how to make Gekko seem like a total prick, but just a prick who wants more money, more respect, and more power to basically take over any company just to the point of where he can about be one of the richest men in the world. Gekko is the type of guy, you just hate, but there’s something about him that directs your attention towards him right away. That’s all thanks to Douglas and although I don’t usually like him as an actor, I think he does a very great job as Gekko and makes him the personification for everything that’s wrong with the economy.

The rest of the cast is pretty good too. Charlie Sheen is good with his yuppie schtick as Bud Fox (what a dumb name), but as the film goes on he gets more cocky and angry, and it’s actually kind of hard to take him as seriously as the film wanted us to. Martin Sheen doesn’t have the same problem his son does and actually has a couple of very emotional scenes. Daryl Hannah doesn’t bring anything to this film as Bud’s main squeeze, and could have been left out of the picture completely and it wouldn’t have mattered either way. Terence Stamp, John C. McGinley, James Spader, Hal Holbrook, and Sean Young are all good.

Consensus: Wall Street has a powerful performance from Douglas, and features a timeless look on the Wall Street circuit, but falls for too many 80’s cliches like the lame and cheesy sayings in the script, the annoying synthesizer, and just the feeling that nothing else here is really authentic.

7/10=Rental!!

3 comments

  1. Dan, I really dig your Blog. I love hearing how a younger fan – someone who is the age now that I was when this movie came out – feels about these movies. It’s like, the truest test of whether these movies ACTUALLY stand the test of time or not. I mean, its one thing for ME to praise this flick, I was there, my friends quoted this one silly (although youre right, “Greed is Good” is the only phrase that made it into Pop Culture – and it’s a misquote! The real line is “Greed… for lack of a better word… is Good” LOL)

    But I am going to correct you on one thing though. nothing in the wirting or your opinions on the film or anything.

    But even if the film feels like its inauthentic now? That it was made up just for movies? When this film came out it felt like a slice of life movie. That whole “Yuppie” thing and the corporate takeovers, and people chopping up businesses to steal their pensions? This whole thing felt fresh off the presses, man. I know it seems hard to believe now… but…

  2. Wow, I didn’t think you were going to be as harsh about this one. I mean you gave it a 7, but you also slapped it around while you were at it. I think your points are solid through out and they are your experience so there’s no changing your mind, nor am I suggesting otherwise. I can see how you might feel that a lot of the 80’s references and pop-culture connections are “on the nose” or cheesy, or as you put it “lame” — but like fogsmoviereviews points out – this was indeed spot on for the times and Stone really did capture something pretty unique – there is a texture in this film that rings true to people who lived through it, a kind of familiarity of authenticity. The thing is, this movie really is a period film but it wasn’t written that way at all. Think about a period film like say Barry Lyndon (1975) about the 18th century (1750s to begin with) where the script and filmmakers’ intent was to look back on a period, capture the look, smell and taste of what was happening through story, character, and that intangible nuance that makes the bricks look more real and the conversations more colloquial – more everyday. This film became a period film in time, since then and when we look back it’s impressive how much Stone got into this movie.

    It’s in that essence of a film that lives the distinction of greatness. cheers-

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