I went into this knowing only what I’d picked up from the trailer, and I left feeling very entertained and quite moved. With the talented efforts of those behind and in front of the camera, this thriller isn’t over-long or over-complex or full of economical trading mumbo-jumbo that forces you to feel stupid for half of the story. It’s to the point, well made and well-acted.
Jodie Foster, here directing, takes cues from her role in ‘Inside Man’, gives us a similar styled thriller that isn’t rushed or overly dramatic, but more character focused and lets you unravel the mystery with our leads. George Clooney and Jack O’Connell are our main pairing for most of the film, battling each other with words, heightened emotion and, at times, violent outbursts. Julia Roberts, in one of her best and most grounded roles for some time, supports them and us with her calm overseeing of the situation from behind her director’s booth as the drama unfolds live on air both in the studio and on the streets of New York.
Clooney is confident and self-assured, but starts to see the failings in his own life and how he fails to see the real people who trust his word as gospel. O'Connell is desperate, dangerous and fragile, acting out of what many people can relate too - seeking answers. Both are from different ends of the economic ladder, but come to meet half-way and are no different from each other as humans towards the end.
While this doesn’t re-invent the wheel for the narrative or character motives (to be honest, what the hell does nowadays), it delivers fresh ideas into the mix like the broadcasting on live TV and the cutting between the action in the studio and the external investigation outside of it which allows both to come together for the finale and chance to experience Dominic West’s ever dependable sly and manipulative anti-villain.
I personally was hooked from the start, investing in the set-up and our characters and following them through to the end. The settings are confined, but never claustrophobic. We can see the action play out without feeling alienated from the growing tension between Gates and Budwell, and also with Fenn and her production team. Each character takes a journey when faced with staring death in the face, and by the end your perceptions on them all will be changed from the initial set-up.
I spent a good portion of the second half picking my nails and holding my holds tight in anticipation of what was going to happen next and how. I didn’t want to be floored with plot twists and turns, I just wanted to be entertained and believe in what I was seeing, and I was, which made it more entertaining than I expected without boring me or losing momentum. It is a relevant film and one I can imagine being very factual over fiction due to the current economic climate and murky world of corrupt traders, investors and businesses.
It’s not over-long and not boring. It has a solid team of experienced cast and crew which you know will deliver something engaging. It’s well shot, cleverly presented and full of tense moments and fine performances. It’s well worth your time and money to invest in.