On Saturday I accompanied a group of MFin students to see the belated “Wall Street” sequel. This was strictly for entertainment – not part of the syllabus.
The consensus was it was pretty average. Moderately entertaining, with some good attention to detail (the actors playing Hank Paulson and Tim Geithner were carefully chosen). But the drama of the original film was lacking, mainly because of a lack of tension between the main characters. And the ending was, well, cheesy and implausible. The not very thinly veiled attack on Goldman Sachs (“Churchill Schwartz”) was a bit unoriginal too. Some think the use of the very English/Waspy name Churchill is a nod at JPMorgan, but I think in the national hall of infamy it’s Goldman that makes the obvious target.
When the first film came out, the real Wall Street was pretty mysterious to most people and did not have the cultural significance it has today. The story of the financial crisis is now familiar to the point of near-boredom. The bad guy in the film, Bretton James (is this a deliberate reference to Bretton Woods?) is not really bad enough to make the film. Michael Douglas remains a compelling presence on screen. But he’s not in the film all that much.
Apparently there is a film about the fall of Lehmans in the pipeline for 2011. I look forward to seeing how that compares.