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Movie Review

'Money Monster' Never Quite Lets You Go

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Money Monster is a first-rate suspense movie about a hostage situation, frequently compared to Sidney Lumet and Al Pacino's Dog Day Afternoon. But Money Monster is a lot more complicated than Dog Day Afternoon, with a lot more to think about. The hostage taker this time has a much more public motive, and the movie has a lot more relevance to public issues and current public debate. But Money Monster remains primarily a crime suspense thriller with a fair amount of police procedural and a complex plot that never bewilders you and never quite lets you go.

The main setting is a television news broadcast of the type that is so current now, with George Clooney mixing his financial news with dancers in tight pants, and there is a certain amount of comment on the current news situation as well as a general theme of modern communication via smartphones and computers, with the story complicated by the failure to contact key people scattered all over Iceland and South Africa and Korea, and nobody willing or authorized to take action. The police, for once, are not examples of confusion or corruption; the SWAT team is about the only group that knows exactly what to do and does it, though outside forces prevent them from completing the job.

But what the proper action is is hard to determine, as our sympathies keep switching from Clooney to Julia Roberts' television work to Jack O'Connell's hostage taker, whose motives turn out to be much more sympathetic, maybe even heroic, than you'll suspect. But at each step of the story, the immediate problem is clear, even if the solution isn't and the wider issues become such as to make you wonder whether there can be any real solution at all.

And as to that final question, I'll leave you to debate that for yourself.