johnlink ranks MARGIN CALL (2011)

This movie just popped up on Amazon Prime recently, and the cast is just too good not to run with. A thriller set around a company realizing the inevitable as a major financial crisis will hit, MARGIN CALL seemed like a movie worth seeing.


I watched MARGIN CALL (2011) on 1.14.16. It was my first viewing of the film.

A major financial institution is restructuring. Likable middle manager Eric Dale (Stanley Tucci) is the first to be escorted out. On his way, he hands a file to rocket-scientist-turned-trader Peter Sullivan (Zachary Quinto). That night, Sullivan discovers the missing links in a major report and learns that the institution – and the entirety of Wall Street – is about to go belly up.

MARGIN CALL is a we-should-have-known commentary on the mortgage bubble that popped a few years before its release in 2011. It uses a stellar cast – Zachary Quinto’s boss is Paul Bettany, whose boss is Kevin Spacey, who’s boss is Jeremy Irons – to draw attention to what was clear malfeasance by Wall Street. In this film, it is a fictional company which decides to knowingly sell of its failing assets to unknowing investors. In the real world, this was the beginning of a major economic depression.

This is a movie which paints a black-and-white picture of the company boss, John Tuld (Jeremy Irons), but otherwise deals in various shades of gray. The upper management people, played by Demi Moore and Simon Baker, knew there was trouble, but didn’t think it would be this bad. One will be the fall person, the other will be the driving force of the company’s strategy to not die. Spacey’s Sam Rogers is a good man doing a bad man’s job.

Writer-Director J.C. Chandor does a nice job introducing Rogers and Will Emerson (Bettany) as potential villains before revealing their inherent goodness. Rogers is the better man, with Emerson being a bit more gray. But, generally speaking, the characters here are mostly solid.

The dialogue, though, is hit or miss. Candor rights this in the short cadence, rapid-fire manner that is popular in male-driven suspense scripts. But he doesn’t direct it, always, in that way. The result sometimes feels overly stylistic, like this is a movie which wants to be a lot cooler than it is.

It’s a good movie though, and an interesting one. The performances are nice, and the message is nuanced enough for it to be a worthwhile watch. It’ll make you angry, though I’m sure there are plenty of documentaries of that era – which need no fictionalization – which will do that job as well.




FINAL SCORE: 6.25 out of 10

~ by johnlink00 on January 16, 2016.

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