By Jack Dignan
George Clooney, Julia Roberts and Jodi Foster. Sold? You should be. With a cast and director like that, this should instantly become a must see. Add into the mix that it also stars Jack O'Connell and Breaking Bad's Giancarlo Esposito, and boom! You have my butt in a seat. Is Money Monster, the latest Jodi Foster directed thriller, worth the price of admission though? Well, I'd definitely say so. Is it the must see life-altering movie experience of the year? No, if you're after that, go see The Nice Guys. But if you've already seen The Nice Guys, this isn't too bad of an option, either.
Set in (mostly) one location and told in real time, Money Monster follows the story of Lee Gates (George Clooney), a financial TV talk show host who is directed by Patty Fen (Julia Roberts). Not long into one of his shows, a young man named Kyle Budwell (Jack O'Connell) breaks onto the set, disguised as a delivery man. Armed with a gun, he forces Patty to keep the cameras rolling while he straps a bomb to Lee and threatens to blow everybody up if they cut the feed. It's a race against the clock as everyone frantically tries to find out the answers this guy wants before he kills everyone in the studio.
Because of its small, isolated setting, Money Monster is extremely tense and very well handled. Jodi Foster is proving to be a very talented director, and while her acting talents will certainly be missed, her directing skills are making up for it. It's a short and to the point movie where every moment adds to the suspense. The plot always moves forward, revealing shocking information all the time. By the time we get to the third act, which was advertised stupidly in the trailer and took away from the second act's suspense, my heart was racing.
For the most part, it's just three characters trying to talk their way out of a very delicate situation, with other characters coming and going from time to time, each elevating the plot forward. The three performances are unbelievably good. I will watch anything with George Clooney or Julia Roberts (except for Mothers Day because screw that), and they certainly delivered, Clooney especially. He can be funny when he needs to be, but also nails the seriousness of the whole thing, and it helps a lot when Jack O'Connell, who is a star in the making, gives another sensationally gripping performance.
If this film were to stay inside the studio, it would've been a brilliant movie. Unfortunately, it feels the need to drag us around to other events that could've been summarised in one or two sentences, but instead we're given about twenty minutes worth of screen time. The scenes drag, showing us way too much and giving us very little needed information. All of the scenes inside the studio are full of nail biting suspense, but all the scenes outside the studio... not so much.
To sum up, Money Monster is a very well put together and delightfully simple edge of your seat thriller with brilliant performances from George Clooney, Julia Roberts and Jack O'Connell, as well as confident direction from Jodi Foster. You don't need to rush out and see this movie, but if you do, it's worthwhile.
3 1/2 Stars