Margin Call

I doubt very many of us (if any) have been aware of an impending financial crisis that would bankrupt an entire company and potentially destroy an economy. Our economy is not in great shape right now. Investment institutions on Wall Street only a handful of years ago screwed things up so royally that 3 years later the economy is still attempting to recover. Now, if you were an investment bank that knew that something was dreadfully wrong and that there was impending doom, what would you do? Would you reach out to other firms and let them know? Would you reach out to members of the media to give them a heads up? Or would you watch out solely for you and do whatever was in your power to save as much of the firm as possible because it’s your livelihood at stake?

This is a movie that is “inspired by a true story.” It’s set in a firm just before the 2008 financial bust in the market. Director J.C. Chandor decides to open the film with one of the firm managers, Eric Dale (Stanley Tucci) being brought into a room where he is told that he is being let go after almost 20 years of loyal service. Unsure why, on his way out, because he’s been working on something important he gives one of his former staff workers, Peter Sullivan (Zachary Quinto) what he’s been working on. “Be careful,” he warns Peter.

Naturally Peter is curious and begins to finish the work his former boss had started. And low and behold he discovers that because of bad investments the firm is about to collapse and that the figures that the industry have been following to make money is about to cost everyone virtually everything as they are flawed.

Margin Call

Rather than bury the information Peter goes to Will (Paul Bettany) and explains it to him. Shocked, Will provides the information to his boss played by Kevin Spacey and it goes up the food chain to Jared (Simon Baker) and finally Jeremy Irons who plays John. Now the firm must figure out what to do with the information and frantically struggle to get Eric back into the office so he can explain this to them.

It’s probably going to be a long time before we fully, or think we fully understand exactly what happened during the housing bust that happened years ago. In the film, while they talk about it a bit, it’s never discussed in too much detail and is dumbed down so that we get a sense, but never the full story.

Margin Call

The acting in the film is great. I truly can’t imagine how the director managed to get Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Stanley Tucci, and others in the same film, a filming many scenes with more than just one of them. I especially liked Jeremy Irons character because he was out for numero uno in this situation and that was himself. I completely believe that a man or woman that has spent countless years building a financial empire that there’s no way he’d let it go without a fight.

My only real complaint with the film, although more of a criticism is that if feels like it was made for a premium cable channel like HBO or Showtime rather than for a film. But, it doesn’t take away from its quality or its story.

This is an interesting business film watching individuals see things starting to collapse around them. It’ll definitely get you thought provoked and one that if it opens near you, I’d go out and see.

FINAL GRADE: A –

Reel Film News Movie Review by Bill Ayres

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