You know those movies where you kind of hope the power goes out at the theater so you can stop watching it? This is one of those movies. And I’m not going to waste much time reviewing it. So you don’t have to waste much time reading the review.
It’s a remake of Wall Street. That’s all it is. Plot by plot, scene by scene, almost line by line. Which I am assuming isn’t a SPOILER, because how many people besides me will have seen and remember Wall Street and also this movie? Wall Street was a good interesting movie within a particular point in time, the era when stock brokers were seen as all powerful exciting engines of the economy, instead of little boys playing with numbers. And most importantly (and no one ever remembers this), Wall Street ultimately rejected the whole concept of stock manipulation and the rest of it. It was a deeply moral film, and the moral was there in every frame of it. The scenes in the brokerage firm, the mansions, the penthouses, they were all slightly artificial feeling. Even the performances were slightly artificial. And then we were slammed back to reality with scenes of the regular people in their small homes with their small lives. The movie was trying to create the heightened effect of how the stock manipulators saw the world, that it was all artificial and they were floating above it with numbers and money, and then the shock of being reminded that there were real people who were involved, who were being hurt.
This movie, doesn’t seem to get that. Falls in love with the artificial excitement of the money world without seeing that it is supposed to be false, that the audience is supposed to be at a slight remove from it. Even more disturbing, they put in the “talking to the camera” moments from another wall street movie, American Psycho without seeming to realize those moments were in the original because our hero was a sociopath who only cared about his own point of view.
So in this movie, we have the glossy style of Wall Street and the impossible to read sociopath who has to talk to the camera of American Psycho, but we are supposed to care deeply about what happens to our superficial sociopath hero? But, like WHY???? Stockbrokers are little boys gambling with other peoples’ money, that is something that has become abundantly clear in the 31 years since the original Wall Street first tried to give us that message. And a hero who never connects with another character, to the point that he has to talk to the camera to explain his emotions, is not going to be sympathetic.
Oh, and also the hero is a TERRIBLE TERRIBLE actor. Rohan Mehra, from TV. He showed up onscreen and I went “oh yeah, TV face”. I don’t know what it is, but there is a certain kind of delicate features and small stature that just screens “Indian Soap Opera Star” to me. Maybe he has to be smaller so he can fit within a TV set? Anyway, he is a baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad actor. At no moment did I know, or care, what he was feeling. Which is a bit of a flaw if he is supposed to be our protagonist!
Meanwhile, Saif was WONDERFUL. The whole movie worked when he was onscreen. Not to mention that his role was the one most clearly defined and most changed from the original character in Wall Street. He has a backstory, he has a family, he has an ethnic identity, he has all kinds of things that make him more than just a cypher in a suit. Most of all, he has a good actor playing him! Saif knows how to make his character complicated, sympathetic, relate to others. And fascinating to watch. His monologues and magnetic, his poster, his body, his face. If the whole movie had been him and Chitraganda Sinha as his wife (she was also great), I would have loved it. We could even keep Radhike Apte, but give her a better role (you can see the delay in release the biggest in her part, she would never have been shoved into this love interest character now). But nooooo, we had to keep cutting over to stupid Rohan Mehra and the stupid pointless stock market.
There’s one other major problem with this film. It doesn’t seem to grasp the meaning, or lack there of, of stock manipulation. It talks a big game about how this is wrong or that is wrong, but it doesn’t seem to know WHY it is wrong. We see someone we are told owns a bank who gets cheated in a stock deal. But we don’t see that his bank fails and thousands of people lose their savings. So, why should I care? Saif says it is all a game and about winning and losing, and the film seems to believe that, doesn’t show us the small investors and little people who lose everything based on a few actions at the top. And so it is, frankly, boring. I have no reason to keep watching this, there is nothing that draws me in as an audience. Well, except Saif. He is awesome. If you can catch this movie streaming later and just fast-forward to his scenes, it would be worth it.