Money Monster is a difficult film to categorize; it’s a politically charged suspense thriller with a strong undercurrent of black comedy, which still maintains a great character dynamic. While the plot may seem absurd, it’s actually very well crafted, with an eye for moral ambiguity and rich character prospects. There are ridiculous elements, and at points the political undertones are less than subtle, but the film pulls off the difficult task of making a realistic thriller with sharp social satire.
The film follows Lee Gates (George Clooney), a talk show host that gives advice on investment, who’s in the middle of a clash with his director (Julia Roberts). When his show is hijacked by a disgruntled bomber (Jack O’Connell), Lee is forced to question his methods and find the truth. Clooney plays off of his persona, giving a charismatic and sly performance that avoids the trapping of a caricature, but it’s O’Connell’s grounded and furious work here that is the standout.
While there’s an intensity to the entire film that peaks in a nail biting third act, there’s also a side of comedy, both traditional and satirical. It’s a well rounded film, and what it lacks in subtlety it makes up with some of the more interesting character dynamics of the year. Money Monster is a wild ride, and it makes for an intriguing story and dynamic thrill ride. Grade: B+