Directed by Oliver Stone, Wall Street follows green stock broker Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) as he successfully befriends a vicious corporate raider (Michael Douglas’ Gordon Gekko) and subsequently experiences a substantial bump in both his career and his personal life (ie he takes up with Daryl Hannah’s Darien Taylor). There’s little doubt that Stone does an impressive job of authentically establishing the movie’s cut-throat world of high finance right from the outset, as the filmmaker, along with coscreenwriter Stanley Weiser, offers up a blisteringly-paced narrative that rarely pauses to explain exactly what the central character does or how all of this works. It’s subsequently not surprising to note that Wall Street boasts (or suffers from, depending on one’s perspective) long stretches of virtually incoherent instances of exposition and activity, with the viewer’s interest primarily held by the refreshingly adult atmosphere and by Douglas’ consistently mesmerizing performance. The inclusion of several admittedly electrifying sequences – eg Gekko’s infamous “greed is good” speech – generally compensates for the periodically overwhelming narrative, although Stone’s reliance on a progressively conventional structure, particularly in terms of Bud’s familiar rise-and-fall character arc, ensures that the movie peters out as it approaches its far-from-unexpected conclusion. Still, Wall Street is an entertaining piece of work that, more often than not, provides an eye-opening behind-the-scenes glimpse at an almost alien landscape.
**1/2 out of ****