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Wall Street

Published on June 28th, 2019

“Greed is Good.” This is the credo of the aptly named Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), the antihero of Oliver Stone’s Wall Street. Gekko, a high-rolling corporate raider, is idolized by young-and-hungry broker Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen). Inveigling himself into Gekko’s inner circle, Fox quickly learns to rape, murder and bury his sense of ethics.

Only when Gekko’s wheeling and dealing causes a near-tragedy on a personal level does Fox “reform”-though his means of destroying Gekko are every bit as underhanded as his previous activities on the trading floor.

Director Stone, who co-wrote Wall Street with Stanley Weiser, has claimed that the film was prompted by the callous treatment afforded his stockbroker father after 50 years in the business; this may be why the film’s most compelling scenes are those between Bud Fox and his airline mechanic father (played by Charlie Sheen’s real-life dad Martin).

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Movie Reviews: “Wall Street

Movie Review: CHICAGO READER

Wall Street

Oliver Stone’s follow-up to Platoon—developed from a script by Stanley Weiser, who is credited as cowriter with Stone—juxtaposes an experienced multimillionaire corporate raider (Michael Douglas) and a young broker faced with moral conflicts (Charlie Sheen), set against the background of the bull market in 1985 and 1986.

Structured like a morality play, the film flirts in its first part with a megabuck fantasy out of Ayn Rand, with comic book flourishes and campy macho initiations suggesting an urban western; the second half is a masochistic liberal fantasy that asks us to feel guilty about the first part.

The oscillation of the young hero between bad father (Douglas) and a good father (Martin Sheen) recapitulates the same metaphysics as Platoon, and the only function of women in this world is to serve as status symbols: Daryl Hannah as first prize is given such conflicting drives that she eventually cancels herself out of the movie; an unrecognizable Sean Young serves as Douglas’s parodically proplike wife, and the young hero’s mother is conspicuously absent.

Stone and Weiser keep much of this entertaining with rapid-fire ticker-tape dialogue and brisk pacing; there’s an amusing montage sequence about outfitting a yuppie apartment, and other assorted scenic splendors along the way. But the sensibility of this movie is so adolescent that it’s hard to take it as seriously as the filmmakers intend us to.

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Movie Review: Washington Post

Wall Street

Like the stock market of late, “Wall Street” has its ups and its downs, but its principal equity is a bullish performance from Michael Douglas as a company-gobbling arbitrageur. Suddenly the lite romantic lead has become a virile dynamo, calling up visions of his father Kirk in this portrait of takeover tycoon Gordon Gekko. He’s a lizardly villain in Money Hell, where men with concrete souls and Versace suits play games with pensioners’ pennies and workers’ paychecks.

These modern-day Midases come under the critical eye of ax-grinding Oliver Stone, as the “Platoon” director goes from the foxhole to the trading floor with this Faustian yarn, an entertaining morality play full of flaws, flair and finger-wagging. With its posturing politics and cardboard characterizations, “Wall Street” is not up to the director’s past standards.

Stone again has chosen Charlie Sheen for his naive protagonist, a man-child in a moral mine field called the Bull Market of 1985. This time Sheen’s disillusioned soldier is a facile broker struggling with the dark side of his nature.

Surely no MBA was ever so fresh-scrubbed as Sheen’s Bud Fox, a model go-getter who falls under the spell of the avaricious Gekko, guru of greed. Bud comes from a wholesome, working-class family in Queens. His father, played by Charlie’s father Martin Sheen, is a crusty trade unionist whose good example is lost on his money-hungry offspring. Bud looks down his nose at Dad’s blue-collar values in this fiduciary variation on “The Flamingo Kid.”

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Movie Review: Reel Film Reviews

Wall Street

Based on true events, Salvador follows grizzled photojournalist Richard Boyle as he attempts to document the various injustices and atrocities occurring within the title locale.

Filmmaker Oliver Stone, working from a script cowritten with Boyle, delivers a gritty and often grim narrative that’s generally (and unfortunately) lacking in overtly compelling elements, as the movie’s absence of an entry point makes it increasingly difficult to work up any real interest in or sympathy for the protagonist’s exploits.

This is despite an ongoing inclusion of standout (and stand-alone) sequences that fare better than one might’ve expected, and it’s clear, too, that the picture benefits substantially from Woods’ consistently engaging turn as the conflicted central character – although such positives are slowly-but-surely rendered moot by an episodic storyline that is, to a progressively problematic extent, more miss than hit.

Stone’s decidedly less-than-subtle approach to the material paves the way for an often needlessly heavy-handed and sententious cinematic experience, with the movie’s underwhelming final stretch, which is capped off with hopelessly on-the-nose onscreen text, ensuring that Salvador ends on as disappointing and forgettable a note as one could envision.

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