Synyster Graves

Wall Street (1987)

by on Apr.13, 2011, under Further Down The Rabit Hole

This is the predecessor to ‘Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps’, which I’ve wanted to watch since suffering the aforementioned sequel a couple of months back. The original film stars the same Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) as the greed and money obsessed trader, this time before he gets sent down for insider trading. ‘Wall Street’ is a substantially better film than its 2010 sequel and also stars Michael and Charlie Sheen alongside Mr Douglas. Set in 1985 New York we follow Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen), an up and coming trader who’s stuck cold calling for a Wall Street firm but wants to get into day trading and believes multi-millionaire trader Gordon Gekko is his ticket to success.

The story is well written and there are just as good performances from the main cast. We watch Bud Fox get pulled into an illegal and immoral trading ring within which he relies on insider knowledge to buy firms at the lowest possible price, break them up and sell the assets for more than the company was bought for. He settles into the role well and can assuage his conscience with the fact that he’s earning hundreds of thousands of dollars (if not millions) from these deals, more than he ever could hope to earn in any other honest job.

Throughout the film we see Gordon Gekko cleverly manipulating and using Bud Fox for his own gains, and Bud is so naive that he falls for it and can’t see through what’s really happening. Bud’s father however, an aircraft mechanic and leader of the company’s trade union for the last 20 years, is much more worldly wise and warns his son away from these games at every chance he gets. Of course, the money and lifestyle is keeping Bud firmly in the grasp of Gordon Gekko. That is until Bud leads a bid to buy the failing airline that his father works for in order to turn it around into a profitable company. It’s not too long however until he finds out that his mentor, Gekko, is about to do the same old trick with his dads company, laying off his father and all his colleagues.

It’s a great twist, although plainly you can see if coming a mile off, but it gives Charlie Sheen the chance to show us how Bud would react when these immoral dealings are affecting his direct family and friends. Suddenly the riches and status aren’t as important to him and he has a sudden change of conscience. Bud eventually goes behind Gekko’s back to stop the deal from breaking up the company and as a final ‘fuck you’ he cleverly costs Gekko millions in the process. Of course the police eventually catch up with Bud’s shady dealings and he gets arrested for inside trading and is forced to rat Gekko out in exchange for a more lenient jail term; which is where the sequel picks up.

Another thing that makes this film so much better than the sequel is the lack of annoying graphics interjecting throughout every scene change. Although this was a big thing in the 80’s they haven’t employed it once in this film, which is more than can be said for ‘Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps’.

As I mentioned, the cast puts in a really good performance, the story is engrossing and interesting and I would definitely recommend it as a good watch, but it’s still not up there with the greats. We also learn a lot about Gordon Gekko in this movie which does help define him as a character in the sequel, which I would strongly advise you don’t watch. I would however recommend this movie as a good entertaining 2 hours of cinematography, so I’ll give it a very average 5 stars.

5 Stars

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