“Wall Street” is the quintessential 80s business movie. This Oliver Stone masterpiece, set in New York City, was released in December of 1987, just two months after the stock market crash of the same year. With an all-star cast, including Charlie Sheen, Michael Douglas, Martin Sheen, Daryl Hannah, James Spader, Terence Stamp, Hal Holbrook and Sean Young, the movie follows Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen), a naïve, yet hungry stockbroker willing to do whatever it takes to achieve his dreams of money and power.
The movie opens amidst the organized chaos that is Bud’s working environment at the Jackson & Steinham brokerage firm. It soon becomes apparent that he is tenaciously pursuing an interview with his hero, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas). Gekko is a fiercely competitive corporate raider, known for his ability to discover undervalued companies, buy them up, and then sell their assets for a quick profit, regardless of his action’s effects on others. After calling Gekko’s office for 39 straight days in an unsuccessful effort to set up a meeting, Bud goes to Gekko directly to present him with a birthday gift. Offering expensive cigars and a little inside information pertaining to his father’s airline company, Bud quickly ingratiates himself with Gekko. Sensing something special in Bud, Gekko takes him under his wing, presenting him with the opportunity to make it big if Bud has what it takes.
Tantalized by the “perks” Gekko tosses to him, including expensive meals, big paydays, and some blond eye-candy by the name of Darien (Daryl Hanna); Bud is quickly led astray down the road of corporate greed and corruption. However, Bud soon realizes the good life may come at a price. His insider trading has drawn the attention of the SEC. Not only that, but his shady dealings with Gekko have endangered the future of the airline company for which his father is a union rep. Bud is faced with a moral dilemma — to continue on the road to wealth and power, albeit mine-laden, or face the consequences of his actions and go against Gekko’s will.
Few movies have better weathered the years and pinpointed the reality, flaws and faults of the financial system and its players, than “Wall Street”. Gekko is a realistic antagonist that we find ourselves loving to hate. Daryl Hanna, playing Bud’s love interest, nails the role of the materialistic and money hungry, almost female version of Gordon Gekko. Martin Sheen does a fabulous job portraying the hardworking blue-collar father and immovable moral rock in Bud’s life.
While the title itself radiates themes of money, power, and greed, we find ourselves drawn more into a story of choosing between right and wrong, and the affects of our decisions on those around us. “Wall Street” is a fantastic movie whether or not you have any interest in or knowledge of the financial industry. It is definitely a five out of five and a must see!
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