What a pleasure it is to see Michael Douglas reprise his Oscar-winning role as '80s icon Gordon Gekko in this belated sequel to Wall Street. Twenty-three years on he appears much more haggard with unkempt grey hair and casually dressed with no glaring braces in sight. But he hasn't lost his reptilian charm and seductive scheming ways.
After being released from jail in 2001 we move on apace seven years later to see his latest book published - a prophetically titled tome called Is Greed Good? After all, only the great Gekko could have foreseen the looming credit crunch. He's still sharp witted and canny, and longs to see his now grown daughter Winnie (Mulligan), who has avoided all contact with him. Perhaps he wants to repair the damage of his bad ways. Or perhaps he doesn't. Either way, he gets an opportunity at reconciliation with her through her boyfriend Jake (LaBeouf), whom he meets at a book signing.
A deal is struck. The master of the universe will help the young trader negotiate the machiavellian byways of dealing with financial investment billionaire Bretton James (Brolin) who has recently offered him a job at his company. Jack is out for revenge as he believes James' nasty underhand tactics are responsible for his former mentor and boss (Langella) committing suicide. The firm they worked for was one of the first to go under with toxic debts in the billions, a precursor to the economy tanking. In return, Jack must set up a rapprochement for Gekko and his daughter. Easier said than done as she is mightily reluctant to attend the reunion.
Much chicanery ensues with plenty of double crosses and backroom deals but the convoluted plot is not always engaging. Stone seems to have lost his edge here somewhat, it's never quite as piercing as it should be. It's solid enough though and the lead players have plenty to sink their teeth into. Douglas is excellent, his persuasive deviousness contrasting well with his emotive regret over his bad parenting. LaBeouf is a stalwart everyman believably out of his depth, Mulligan convincingly wan and Brolin confidently arrogant. Langella and Eli Wallach bring gravitas to their elder statesman roles and an uncredited Charlie Sheen makes a welcome cameo essaying his role of Bud Fox from the first film.
It's overlong and sluggish in places but the commanding performances make it eminently watchable. On a par with its predecessor – entertaining but never riveting.
EXTRAS ★★★★ An audio commentary from Stone; a conversation with Stone and cast members Douglas, Brolin, Mulligan and LaBeouf (15:49); the featurette Money, Money, Money: The Rise and Fall of Wall Street (50:29); deleted and extended scenes (29:31); a series of five-minute shorts about the film from the Fox Movie Channel, called In Character With; the theatrical trailer; a digital copy of the film. There's also Live Lookup, which can access new special features if your Blu-ray player is connected to the interwebs (and if it isn't, why not?)