Wall Street is a film by Oliver Stone, one of those (literal) Hollywood big fish. The movie appeared in the middle of the 80’s, which I understand is the time when everything ended up going to hell in cultural terms. Here is one of those critical pieces of human endeavour that shows why it is not worth criticizing in film format (perhaps because it ends up being a cathartic praise), but which also has the value of cynical entertainment that characterizes the medium and the director.
Well… to be honest, I have to say that this movie has disappointed me, although that doesn’t make it a bad movie, I was entertained for most of the 2 hours and a little bit longer. What can I say, let’s see… the film is an oversimplification of the hero’s journey for a protagonist who pays for his sins, mainly against his own father, but redeems himself in the end, finding the moral compass that he abandoned when he started the actions that led him to get what he wanted, money and power. Up to this point, it sounds more or less normal for a movie, a protagonist who has a desire and pursues it relentlessly, to later obtain what he was looking for and pay the consequences of having obtained it. Although this is the typical Hollywood structure, which many people say works so why change it (I think the people who say this perhaps haven’t realized that this is the main reason why modern movies are so predictable), I think the problem doesn’t feel like it’s there specifically, but in the narrative.
In the beginning of the relationship between the main character of the story, Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) and the antagonist Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), the latter gives a series of instructions to Bud to produce premeditated movements in the stock market, with the intention of obtaining personal gain. This is the “Gekko method” which can be summarized as creating fictitious movements, via the purchase or sale of a large number of shares, and then using a mass media to intervene in public opinion and “guide” stock buyers to follow the game. Let us consider the “Gekko method” as a fictional device, probably resulting from an investigation of the stock market by the scriptwriter, used by the antagonist to carry out his antagonistic desires (namely, to treat the rest as sacrificial sheep), something like an abstract sword to tyrannize the masses (without pursuing with the last statement any political position). So far so good, Bud learns this way of doing business and ultimately uses the same weapon against Gekko (from mentor to antagonist), by regretting sending his father (Martin Sheen) to the hospital, after betraying him to get the position of CEO in the company where the father works (slaughtering him like a vile sheep).
Sounds logical, doesn’t it? But wait… if it was so easy to beat the antagonist, just use his own technique against him… now, let’s concede that Bud is acting with the help of the antagonist’s archenemy (the enemy of my enemy is my ally?). Maybe you’re thinking right now, but this is a small detail in a successful movie, wait, I’m not making my point yet (I think). What I mean is that in this climate scene the antagonist loses all his power, even in retrospect, as if all his previous actions become meaningless. After so many years in the ruthless business of power and money… has anything like this ever happened to him before? A tycoon overdrawn in resources is defeated by a newbie using the weapon that the same tycoon has taught him? It’s possible, I know… maybe deep down Gekko was more interested in getting between Darryl Hannah’s legs, we don’t know. But deep down I feel that there’s one last twist missing, one that puts the protagonist in a real predicament, that brings him completely against the wall. What if Gekko pre-empts Bud’s plan and makes him fail in his attempt, causing Sir Lawrence Wildman (Gekko’s archenemy) to lose a lot of money? This would leave Bud with not one, but two billionaire enemies to confront, forcing him to surrender to justice, sacrificing himself to bring to light the malicious practices of the powerful. But no… the story goes to the moralistic side and reminds us that “honesty and hard work are worth more than billions of dollars” and that “doing the right thing leads you to accept that you are just another ant in the anthill”. Those who have seen the end of the film will understand me. The rest of the movie I really like, the exploration of the world of finance gives you that sense of contrived dynamism that in real life happens maybe sporadically and most of the characters are attractive and interesting to me (Bud’s friend in the office gets all the awards). Something that disturbs me a little about the film is a character that appears in the office where Bud works, he is a gentleman of parsimonious walk that takes advantage of all the instances to reflect on the moral section of the plot, he is like an angel, a little cricket that in my opinion is completely out of place, I say this because my thinking at this moment is bordering on pure cynicism and utilitarianism and I don’t see any value in the moral turpitude I was completely in love with until I realized that I was also one more of those playful ants that get lost in the collective. Goodbye individual identity, goodbye Gordon Gekko!
The good stuff:
- Bud’s friend at the office.
- Some of Gekko’s dialogues are instant classics.
- The detail of the cigar in Martin Sheen’s character.
The bad stuff:
- From the climax on it becomes a Christmas story.
- Excess of moralism.
In short… look for the summarized version on YouTube.