Film Review: Money Monster

by Sam Robinson

Rated M. Starring George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O’Connell. Directed by Jodie Foster.

Live TV can be a scary thing. Technical issues can take down feeds, autocues can malfunction, and George Clooney can dance freely like a daggy uncle. Well, that’s what happens in Jodie Foster’s new feature, Money Monster.

Lee Gates (Clooney) is a high-flying host of a financial TV show, Money Monster, which broadcasts live from New York on a CNN-style network across the US. Gates dances around to hip-hop music in a robe and boxing gloves, before providing tips on what stocks to invest in. Off-camera, he is egotistical and brash – that is, until the set is invaded by Kyle (O’Connell), a young man armed with a gun, seeking revenge for a poor tip that Gates had given that caused him to lose his life savings. Yes, live TV is indeed unpredictable.

Thus, the thriller is established, and for the most part it’s an intense watch. Director Foster plays into fear as the nation watch the events take place live. The majority of the film takes place on the stifling studio set, as Gates is held hostage. He is guided by show director Patty Fenn (played well by Roberts) about how to handle the situation, and police do their best to intervene – but take their sweet time to do so. It’s the final act of the film where momentum is lost, as events leave the studio and big statements are made, and morals are pushed.

‘What is a life worth to you?’

It’s clear that Foster wants us to ask the question of who real criminals of our world are. Is it Kyle, wielding a gun – threatening to kill? Or is it the fat cats who delight in stealing from the poor – leaving them penniless? Either way – it’s the chase of wealth that corrupts, and causes the greedy to forget about the lives that will be affected by the pursuit.

This is something the Bible speaks about. In writing to his protege Timothy, Paul wrote that ‘the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil’ (1 Timothy 6:10), warning that people will wander from their faith to pursue earthly wealth. This echoes Jesus’ words that you cannot serve God and money (Matthew 6:24). Greed is a real problem – a monster in fact – in our world, and in our churches, and perhaps Money Monster challenges us to keep watch over, and prayerfully consider, the way we use our wealth. But perhaps also it shows us that lives are more precious than money, and the good news of Jesus provides a hope that will never perish, spoil or fade.

The Verdict: Money Monster is a thrilling and dangerous ride that raises some big questions, but slowly runs out of steam and interest. 3/5

Money Monster will be released in Australian cinemas this Thursday, June 2nd. It is currently screening in the US and UK.

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