Wall Street (1987)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Urban Drama  |   Release Date - Dec 11, 1987 (USA)  |   Run Time - 126 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Derek Armstrong

More a criticism of the Reagan years than an homage (consistent with Oliver Stone's politics), Wall Street will nonetheless be remembered as synonymous with the 1980s and their skewed priorities. The film introduced a mass audience to the underhanded dealings and pressure cooker environment of the financial world, netting Michael Douglas an Oscar for his portrayal of the larger-than-life Gordon Gekko, a character who entered the zeitgeist as a symbol of sheer amoral greed, even to those who hadn't seen the film. It's also one of Stone's least fussy films, and by focusing on the plot more than his usual cinematic gimmickry, Stone makes it easy for the layman to navigate stock market lingo and follow the esoteric dramas that unfold in the daily lives of brokers. With almost every character tainted by the lust for wealth, Martin Sheen emerges as the only antidote to the contagious disease of corruption, in the role of a blue-collar machinist and father to the story's central character, Charlie Sheen's Bud Fox. It may be a rather obvious animal metaphor, but if Fox is, indeed, sly, he's at least a prouder, more redeemable creature than Gekko, a slithering lizard who will do anything to prosper. Daryl Hannah, who has made a career of playing oddball misfits, is miscast as a snobbish gold digger, but the rest of the cast effectively personalizes a world full of false loyalty, nervous trust, and merciless usury. A satisfying morality play, Wall Street is one of Stone's most popular films.