There is an amateur quality to this film that might be endearing if it was not so self-righteous and almost deliberately ignorant. Though written by a former investment banker, it has been dumbed down to Hollywood’s idea about Wall Street as interpreted by 1960’s “issue” television programs. It plays like a very special episode of “The Name of the Game” or “Mannix.” But dumber.
Tom (Christian Slater) is an honest investment banker with a Wall Street firm that has an impeccable reputation but no revenues (those two items may be connected). And he is catnip to the ladies — they all go for him in a big way. Christian Slater is also the movie’s executive producer, and those two items are most certainly related.
He persuades idealistic Abbey (Selma Blair) to join his firm instead of working for a public interest group. He tells her she can do more to achieve change from Wall Street and her kindly professor tells her that she may be going into a nest of vipers, but she will be a mongoose. Unless she succumbs to being a viper. Yes, that is the way people talk in this movie. The dialogue is so heavy with exposition that it is like asking the actors to chew rocks.
When Tom’s best friend is mysteriously murdered, Tom is given a chance to work on the friend’s project, a deal involving oil drilling in one of the former Soviet republics. The friend’s boss hopes that Tom will be so overwhelmed by data outside his specialty that he will not realize that the deal is not all it seems — or that he will be so dazzled by the $20 million fee that it won’t matter to him.
Tom is distracted by dalliances with a woman who says something to him about research and hangs up on him all the time (Angie Harmon) and with pure-hearted Abbey. Blair is given so little to build a character with here that all she can manage is an earnest knitting of the brow and a peppy little wave. Betrayal, corruption, bad guys with accents, blah blah blah and everyone is shocked, shocked, to find profiteering and lies in the worlds of finance and politics.
There are small but genuinely bizarre tangents, including a surreal appearance by a real-life Congressman, and a villain who suddenly starts speaking with an accent halfway through the story. But there is not one moment that is authentic or, even, what’s that word? Interesting.
Parents should know that the movie has very strong language and some peril and violence (guns, characters killed). There are several scenes in bars and characters drink to socialize and to deal with stress. There are sexual references and non-explicit sexual situations.
Families who see this movie should talk about the conflict Tom had to resolve. What was the best way for Abbey to achieve her goal of pursuing alternative sources of energy? What does it mean to be a mongoose in a nest of vipers?
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Rollover.