By Colm McCall
A collective of Tinsel Town’s titans lured me to the cinema following a lacklustre period of inferior and uninteresting releases. Money Monster is acclaimed actress Jodie Foster’s first major directorial outing; and what better way to put the butts in the seats than feature the unwavering aesthetic allure of housewife heartthrob George Clooney (Batman & Robin 1997) and movie mainstay Julia Roberts (Pretty Woman 1990). With 2016 lacking any major release in the thriller genre thus far, I had my fingers and toes crossed that this one could revitalise what I would wholeheartedly consider to be film’s most universally appealing variety.
Undoubtedly, an obvious contrast in tone to some of the successful thrillers of recent years such as Prisoners (2013), this crime drama is in some respects a crime ‘dramedy’. Whether or not that was the intention may be another issue, nonetheless this story follows a young investor (Jack O’Connell, Unbroken 2014) who holds up a television financial personality (George Clooney) live on air. Soon things spiral out of control, the media circus ensues and something far more corrupt is revealed. All the while, Clooney has his television director (Julia Roberts) instructing him via a concealed ear piece throughout the whole ordeal.
If I had to compare this movie to anything popular we have seen before, I would be compelled to cite Falling Down (1993) with a sharp modern twist, scarcely sprinkled with shavings of Phone Booth (2002). Whilst it does have mildly gripping moments of intensity, this picture falls quite short in the tension department. Albeit the plot is rather engrossing, its ill-timed and tonally inconsistent usage of humour unpleasantly weighs it down. The laughs in the film felt quite forced and hugely out of place, effectively disrupting the overall pacing and continuity. Maybe this is just my personal taste, but in my eyes those genres should never be intertwined.
The acting on the other hand is on point. Clooney and Roberts often turn in admirable performances and there are no surprises here. Irish actress Caitriona Balfe (Escape Plan 2013) also turns in a solid display. Jack O’Connell is the showstealer however, his performance is not only convincing but he possesses a very relatable vulnerability. All too often in big Hollywood films, the characters are portrayed as somewhat flawless and disconnected from the tribulations of the mundane everyday. But in this instance, the characterisation is stellar. I was able to empathise with all the major characters and that in itself is a rarity.
Money Monster scores 6.5/10 on the MACmeter.