Friday, November 18, 2011

Margin Call is a Smart, Thrilling Ride, about the Financial World

Margin Call (3 1/2 out 5 Stars)
Directed and Written by: J. C. Chandor
Starring: Zachary Quinto, Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Penn Badgley, Simon Baker, Demi Moore, and Jeremy Irons

In our current economy the DOW is up and down, there are numerous people losing their jobs, and there is fear that things will not getter better.  This film is about a nameless company prior to the financial crisis in 2008.  At the beginning a group of people come in to tap workers on the shoulder to ask them to come to a room and get fired.  Eric Dale (Stanley Tucci) is tapped on the shoulder.  Dale explains to the women who are firing him that he is working on something he would like to finish, but they tell him that is not an option.  Dale leaves the files with one of his subordinates, Peter Sullivan (Zachary Quinto and says "Be careful."

I would love to explain what caused the crisis, but I do not understand the mathematical logic behind what was discovered.  Luckily rocket scientist (literally a rock scientist in the financial world) Peter Sullivan is able to piece together the different things as he stays late at work and puts together the puzzle pieces.  Sullivan calls his co-worker in risk management Seth (Penn Badgley) and one of his superiors Will Emerson (Paul Bettany) to come back to the office as soon as possible.  Soon after all of the players at the company are called in to work on the problem.  Sam Rogers (Kevin Spacey) is the first to come to the scene.  Sam is the motivational leader on the floor. 

When Sam steps on the scene he asks Peter and Will to explain the situation to him.  When they begin talking financial jargon, Sam says "Speak to me in English."  The ironic aspect of many of the leaders of within the firm or workers is that they do not have a better understanding of numbers or financial terms.  As John Tuld (Jeremy Irons), the CEO becomes involved he commands his team to take the company on a course of action that could change the face of the economy.  Tuld is a man who like Sam has made his way to the top by just being cutthroat and smart.

J.C. Chandor has done a good job with his first major film; he constructed an interesting thriller that is both gripping and intellectual.  The problem with this film is within his screenplay which has a strong, but as the film draws to its close does have as much energy.  Kevin Spacey and Jeremy Irons gave stellar performances, and were the best part of this film.  Their performances gave this films its strength in the last half of the film.

This tale of business and morality is a solid, and provides a strong start from this new film maker.   Chandor uses the economic struggles as a way to describe not only a historical event in our history, but to display what people will do when they are put to the screws and forced to make difficult decisions.  This was a strong first effort and I was entertained by this film.

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