The success of “Wall Street” is the way in which it buys the audience into this scheme. It also succeeds in how it does not let them see the darkness of it so easily until the world crumbles under the young hero of this film Buddy Fox (Charlie Sheen). The system exists and has destroyed several and it continues to do so. The film happened in 1985 holds same till date in an ugly manner to be scared of. For someone devoid of the stocks, finance and the whole dirty nine yards of it, I got educated in the hazy way any one would be getting into this system by director Oliver Stone.
The movie follows the traditional three act screenplay and yet is not a cliche. It has the upcoming youth Buddy aspiring to be working with his hero Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas). Gekko played by Douglas cuts through the chase. As much as he is devious in his actions, there is an honesty when he is with Buddy. Buddy has been trying to get a meeting scheduled with Gekko for several days with no reply. Gekko does not have time for a small time broker in a firm doing research and suggesting it to their clients. Buddy finds the window of opportunity identifying the birthday of Gekko, his first insider information to the doors of facade of prizes. The second step is to succeed in the meeting by impressing Gekko and he sells his second insider information given by his dad (Martin Sheen) union leader for an airline company Blue Star. These two wealthy of information gets him onboard with his hero. The work begins.
Buddy rises and spikes high within quick span of time. Gekko sees him as the protege. The system itself is a broken system built on guesses and games. People like Gekko see this as the smart players in it. If gambling is legal, then why it is putting hard work to do best gambling is illegal? The idea of stocks and its buying and selling is far beyond my realm of comprehension but there is something uniquely sleazy about it. It spins a cranky machine and the work of it is not of much use other than the existence of the parts. The machine needs to be reconstructed or put to rest but Gekko are the people who provides band aid bad fixes to keep it running as it is their livelihood.
Buddy in his third act redemption questions Gekko “How much money is enough?”. With billions, millions and hundreds of thousands of dollars in play what is the eagerness to go after further more? If you have the money, you will find ways to spend it. One could say the expensive arts Gekko buys but that too he sees it as business and talks proudly on the money it elevated since he bought it. Gekko is there for the game and the adrenaline after a while. Money is morale boost than the value of it in the world. Gekko’s high is the Wall Street.
Oliver Stone provides an insight just enough to be wary of to the ignorant person like me out there. In a film wherein the corruption and scandal is so high, there are only few places there is mention of legality. In the end it ties the knot of the cause and effect but the working environment of this business conveniently provides a blanket on this criminal persecution. There is no stealing, no killing, no blood shed and pure transfer of information. Hence there is no crime. The crime scene is nothing but a regular day at work. This disguise it poses and the lives it ruins under it are shared but not shown. We see cleverness in Gekko and much appreciate rather disgusted by his manipulations. But that is how the stock works.
“Wall Street” is the entertaining thriller which should scare you because this is the world you live in and this is how you become numb and oblivious to the situation. Stone pokes that part of you and see how dangerous this can be in the big scheme of things. Companies destroyed, workers out of work and it becomes the genesis of a much bigger wider roots for greater crimes around the country. This he gives so with the balance of a young man disturbed by the glory and glamour of this profession.
Michael Douglas can be an easy player and he plays this man as a perfect egomaniac gloating every moment of his achievements. His narcissism is charismatic and attracts despite that. Charlie Sheen sits there and acts as the puppy Buddy being groomed, praised and disappointed. Martin Sheen does the right job of the ethical and righteous focus to this story. At the end of the film he says “Do not buy and sell, Create”. Too bad “Wall Street” is not famous for that line but for Gekko’s “Greed for the lack of better word, is good”. That tells so much about the world we live in.
P.S. : “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” is in theatres and I hope (and eager) to see it soon enough.