Jodie Foster directs George Clooney, Jack O’Connell and Julia Roberts in this thriller where an ordinary Joe takes a TV studio hostage.
Money Monster has a lot going for it; the ambition to emulate set in stone Sidney Lumet classics, the best use of gorgeous George in years, a bawdy sense of humour and crisp, clean direction. It feels like a good, old fashioned night at the movies with its starry cast and simple concept, something in 1996 you would see released every other week but now is a rarer bird you want to conserve just so it doesn’t face extinction. Money Monster even adheres to my favourite movie trope; the Jerry Maguire rule of never having a scene end in the most obvious way. Sometimes brilliantly so – see Clooney’s onscreen “Yes We Can” speech to the viewing masses. So why such a low-ish score for Money Monster? The central conceit of the hostage situation rarely grips and never convinces (despite a likeably animated bit from O’Connell as our answer demanding bomb man). All becomes frankly unbelievable as the action spins out to its conclusion – a thriller with points to make rather than any concern to keeping things taut. The final half hour gives up on all semblance of authenticity to bring the survivors face to face with the true villian – Dominic West’s winningly awful “The Man.” Despite stalling on the final lap this is Foster’s best directed film so far – she really is a talent behind the camera, especially in getting comfort stretching yet amusingly dark turns from her greying leading men – but I doubt this would hold up to repeat viewings like her messier but more satisfying The Beaver.