Sunday, November 6, 2011
Stockbrokers Are People Too, Maybe, by Mark Donovan
It may seem somewhat masochistic to watch a financial thriller about the 2008 financial collapse while we are still experiencing the effects of it, but Margin Call makes for an effective and entertaining thriller, even while keeping the majority of the action contained to various boardrooms and offices. The boardroom scenes are tense, without devolving into shouting matches between veteran actors. And none of the actors come across as outright villains, they are all just people put into the overwhelming situation of trying to avert impending disaster, though Jeremy Irons does come off slightly vampiric. It is a bold move- especially in these times, where stockbrokers are perceived as enemy #1.
Kevin Spacey and Paul Bettany also deliver fine performances. This is perhaps one of Kevin Spacey’s best performances since Moon (where he played the voice of the robot GERTY), and it’s always good to see Bettany doing more than just glowering while killing CGI monsters. Penn Badgley is passable as a young, cocky stockbroker, though I kept thinking he was Adam Brody. Are we sure they’re not related? It was somewhat sad to hear his character admit that all he ever wanted to do was be a stockbroker. He must have had very little imagination as a kid.
Margin Call occasionally evokes another one-location thriller, Deterence, though I would say that Margin Call is much more sure-footed and effective. Both deal with people making impossible choices in the face of catastrophe, but Margin Call has the benefit of being a fictional account of real events, and the ensemble is much better. While it may seem strange to find entertainment and excitement in a film about an event from which we are still feeling the fallout, Margin Call is nevertheless a well made, tense thriller, which manages to also be entertaining.
Written by Mark Donovan
Editor: Rod Webber