Director: Oliver Stone
Starring: Charlie Sheen, Michael Douglas
Runtime: 110 mins
“Greed is good” – the motif which has guided the financial habits of the Western World for years, has finally come back to haunt us in the current credit crunch. Only fitting that it came from Oliver Stone’s 1987 picture, Wall Street, which clearly captured the ravenous capitalism pervading the Reagan years and beyond.
It’s a moral fable about an ambitious young broker, Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen), attempting to move into the lucrative big leagues with a corporate raider, the aptly named Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas). Little does Bud know, the path into the financial world is dark and lawless. Gekko’s ruthless desire to maximize his profits and liquidate all obstacles in his way means that consequently he trades peace of mind for a piece of the action.
Oliver Stone’s polemic strikes at the heart of the illusory image of the ‘Free Market’. He presents us with a world where the international debt market holds opportunities, Fortune magazine is ‘the Bible’ and reading the Wall Street Journal is pecuniary sex. In his ‘Greed is Good’ speech, the lizard-like Gekko speaks of firm stockholders as the owners of the company and of himself as the ‘liberator of companies’; it’s hard to share this vision when he later attempts to carve up an independent airline and describes trading as ‘rolling the dice and playing Monopoly’.
Michael Douglas does a stellar job as the slick-haired Gordon Gekko, the corporate crook who subtly covers his illegal tracks with legal loopholes, describing his greed as a natural human evolutionary spirit. He cuts the ice as a financial Tony Montana, a big shot who doesn’t want to quit, constantly absorbing all that hits him. Charlie Sheen, Martin Sheen and Daryl Hannah provide fine support as the broker led astray along with his father and girlfriend.