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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

With a magnetic performance by Michael Douglas—reprising his role as iconic, scruples-free wheeler-dealer Gordon Gekko—offset by heavy-handed attempts at social commentary and a central romantic relationship that puts the sexual cart before the marital horse, the high stakes drama "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" (Fox) makes for an uneven sequel.

Yet, throughout a somewhat over-lengthy series of plot twists, director Oliver Stone's follow-up to his 1987 hit "Wall Street" consistently affirms anti-materialist, broadly pro-family and even—implicitly at least—pro-life values that viewers of faith will find congenial.

Screenwriters Allan Loeb and Stephen Schiff pick up the story with the disgraced Gekko's 2001 release from prison. Having done his time for securities fraud, the ex-big shot finds no one, and nothing, waiting for him on the outside.

Jump forward seven years and Gekko has become a successful author and an accurate prophet of impending collapse whose best-seller's title asks, in a play on his famous mantra from the first film, "Is Greed Good?"

Joining the audience for one of Gekko's publicity appearance—at New York's Jesuit-run Fordham University—is current financial high flyer Jake Moore (Shia LaBeouf). Jake's interest in Gekko is personal as well as professional since he has been living with, and has just become engaged to, Gekko's estranged daughter, Winnie (Carey Mulligan).

Gekko is anxious to reconcile with Winnie, who blames him for her drug-addicted brother's death from an overdose. He finds a willing partner in Jake, and the two make a deal: Jake will work to soften Winnie's feelings toward Dad, and Gekko will assist Jake in his business vendetta against ruthless mogul Bretton James (Josh Brolin).

As partially revealed in earlier scenes, Bretton's stealthy machinations led to the ruin both of Jake's firm and of its founder—also Jake's beloved mentor—Louis Zabel (Frank Langella).

Jake sincerely believes that Winnie will benefit from her father's renewed presence in her life and, lacking Louis' support, he is himself in search of a paternal figure to whom he can turn for guidance. But he gets more than he bargained for out of his arrangement with Gekko, realizing too late that Gekko's plaintive identification of Winnie as "all I have left" has more than one meaning.

Perhaps even more so than in the first installment, Douglas' Gekko is a fascinating compound of charisma, corruption and a few remaining shards of human decency. While his plea that the hi-jinks of Bretton and his ilk—supposedly modeled on real life excesses—are far worse than anything he ever attempted may be blatantly self-serving, a variety of developments demonstrate that Gekko's time behind bars has brought about at least a partial conversion.

This second "Wall Street" succeeds best when it maintains that kind of sharp focus on the personal, but feels bloated and ineffective when it pans out to make sweeping indictments of complex patterns of economic behavior that, however disastrous their consequences, defy easy analysis.

The film contains cohabitation, brief sexual imagery and occasional sexual references, several uses of profanity, at least two instances of rough language and a few crude and some crass terms. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.





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Louis of France: At his coronation as king of France, Louis IX bound himself by oath to behave as God’s anointed, as the father of his people and feudal lord of the King of Peace. Other kings had done the same, of course. Louis was different in that he actually interpreted his kingly duties in the light of faith. After the violence of two previous reigns, he brought peace and justice. 
<p>He was crowned king at 12, at his father’s death. His mother, Blanche of Castile, ruled during his minority. When he was 19 and his bride 12, he was married to Marguerite of Provence. It was a loving marriage, though not without challenge. They had 11 children. </p><p>Louis “took the cross” for a Crusade when he was 30. His army seized Damietta ini Egypt but not long after, weakened by dysentery and without support, they were surrounded and captured. Louis obtained the release of the army by giving up the city of Damietta in addition to paying a ransom. He stayed in Syria four years. </p><p>He deserves credit for extending justice in civil administration. His regulations for royal officials became the first of a series of reform laws. He replaced trial by battle with a form of examination of witnesses and encouraged the use of written records in court. </p><p>Louis was always respectful of the papacy, but defended royal interests against the popes and refused to acknowledge Innocent IV’s sentence against Emperor Frederick II. </p><p>Louis was devoted to his people, founding hospitals, visiting the sick and, like his patron St. Francis (October 4), caring even for people with leprosy. (He is one of the patrons of the Secular Franciscan Order.) Louis united France—lords and townsfolk, peasants and priests and knights—by the force of his personality and holiness. For many years the nation was at peace. </p><p>Every day Louis had 13 special guests from among the poor to eat with him, and a large number of poor were served meals near his palace. During Advent and Lent, all who presented themselves were given a meal, and Louis often served them in person. He kept lists of needy people, whom he regularly relieved, in every province of his dominion. </p><p>Disturbed by new Muslim advances in Syria, he led another crusade in 1267, at the age of 41. His crusade was diverted to Tunis for his brother’s sake. The army was decimated by disease within a month, and Louis himself died on foreign soil at the age of 44. He was canonized 27 years later.</p> American Catholic Blog God passes through the thicket of the world, and wherever His glance falls He turns all things to beauty. <br />–St. John of the Cross

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