Wall Street Movie Review
The phrase, now famous via Douglas's Oscar-winning performance, was initially uttered by Ivan Boesky, the 1980s business biggie who thrived on doing whatever it took to become rich, and paid the price as a result. Director/co-writer Stone, with Douglas at the epicenter, erects an overdone behemoth of a movie that, like Boesky himself, is an ageless -- and, at times, clichéd -- cautionary tale.
But that doesn't mean Wall Street lacks entertainment value. Charlie Sheen, playing the film's protagonist, and Douglas play off one another with the kind of energy and gumption you'd expect from two guys that want to eat the market for lunch on Friday and crap it out by Monday morning.
Sheen (who admits being hungover during shooting) is Bud Fox, a super-hungry everyman who sees Gekko as his financial ticket to ride. As a young nameless buck in the Wall Street trading game, Fox figures that one meeting with Gekko could lead to the type of success that puts his warped hero on the cover of Fortune magazine. Sheen plays Fox as a tenacious puppy dog, tailing Gekko until his time comes... and quickly realizing the steps he'll have to take in order to play the game.
Like Gekko, everything that Oliver Stone does in Wall Street is abundant, almost extreme. Gekko's office is an enormous suite, covered in artwork and design that's nearly offensive in its opulence. Stone repeatedly emphasizes the spoils of tons of disposable income (as if he has to), holding his camera on ridiculous tangible items like a sushi maker, giving you a glimpse of worlds that exist to few. But, like our friend Bud, it's hard for the viewer not to get entranced by all this.
The dialogue, by Stone and co-writer Stanley Weiser (who hasn't contributed to a theatrical release since) is as grand-scale and obvious as the film's visuals. Sheen's Fox flaunts an intense persona that bursts with predictable wannabe business-speak, and Douglas's Gekko practically talks in self-help sound bites, as if he's quoting How to Alienate Friends and Piss Off People. Such bravado-filled lines like "Lunch is for wimps" and "If you need a friend, get a dog" have become modern movie legend in their ridiculous salute to hard work with no heart attached.
Douglas plays the egomaniacal Gekko as sleek and calculated, a symbolic character representing nothing but the power he possesses. It may not be apparent at first viewing, but Douglas portrays Gekko with great skill, turning a transparent icon into a larger-than-life man of predictable, almost mythical actions. The guy's too much of a caricature to glean any depth out of him, so Douglas opts to go to an extreme. Smart move.
As a father figure, Gekko is a failure -- he's clearly interested in Bud solely for his information (another nod to Boesky and the '80s). Even though real Dad, played by papa Martin Sheen, is such a straight-up, hard-working fella, Bud would rather play big. Stone's film, dedicated to his own stockbroker father, is right there with Bud, following its anti-hero to an inevitable future with a giant "The End" over a skyline that dwarfs everyone -- even Gekko himself.