The movie starts with Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) being release from prison in 2001, with no one to meet him, and then bam, it's 2008. We see Gekko's old mobile phone, which drew a few laughs from the crowd and was a nice subtle touch to the original. We have Jake Moore (Shia LaBeouf) working as a trader at a firm suspiciously a lot like Lehman Bros., but this is where the movie fails. Was it Lehman or was it Bear Stearns? The story line for the firm touches both failed investment banks, and isn't clear about the ultimate fate of the bank. That story is never really resolved.
Josh Brolin is excellent as Bretton James, a combination of Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein, which is apropos, since Churchill Schwartz is a combination of J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs. Winnie (Carey Mulligan) is Jake's girlfriend, and the daughter of Gordon Gekko, who is miscast as a crusading Internet journalist, since all she does is cry throughout the movie. There are some fun cameos, most notably Charlie Sheen (Bud Fox in the original), and Wall Street personalities like Jim Cramer, Maria Bartiromo, and Jim Chanos.
Unfortunately, that's where the fun ends. LaBeouf's Moore is unbelievable, in that he would walk away from a job at Goldman, er Churchill, over his morals. If you're handed the keys to the lottery box, you don't just throw them away. Douglas continues to remain the best part of the movie, with his cunning remarks, one liners, and ruthlessness that made the Gekko character famous. He ultimately gets redemption in the end, and again, that is where Stone fails. It felt very rushed at the end, being thrown at us, with everything wrapping up into a neat little package. Gekko bought something most of us know not to be buyable, and despite his “Greed… is good” mantra, this is one Gekko characteristic no one will love and admire.
It's the worth the $10 or so to go see it in the theaters, but this one doesn't have much in the way of staying power.
I'm going long Gekko, but short Money Never Sleeps.