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WALL STREET
20th Anniversary Edition

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Michael Douglas, Charlie Sheen, Daryl Hannah, Martin Sheen, Hal Holbrook, Terrence Stamp
Director: Oliver Stone
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby 4.0 Surround, French Dolby Mono, Spanish Dolby Mono
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: See Review
Length: 126 Minutes
Release Date: September 18, 2007

“The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that GREED, for lack of a better word, is good.”

Film ***1/2

How much is enough?

After winning his Oscar for Best Director in 1986 for Platoon, Oliver Stone didn’t maneuver the same way a filmmaker in the same situation did. Most directors who win the award tend to take some time off from work, mostly because they want to wait for the “perfect” project to come along that would equal the greatness of a film like Platoon. Stone did not want to take anytime off and looking back, it’s easy to see why. He’s a filmmaker who knows a lot about everything from war to politics to the media to sports.

So this director, so full of energy, went right into production on his next feature film, Wall Street. Stone would now switch gears from the jungles of Vietnam to a whole different kind of jungle; that of the underworld of the New York stock market. The result is a highly insightful film about the stock market, filled with some of the most masterful acting seen in the 80s.

Stone’s view of Wall Street can be summed up in one simple word: greed. The only way to get ahead to is to grab all that you can whenever possible, which is the true nature of the film’s central character Gordon Gekko. Gekko is played to pure perfection by Michael Douglas, who won the Oscar for Best Actor for his performance here.

Gekko is a true predator of the stock market, wanting to grab every piece of the puzzle that he can in the underworld of Wall Street. His daily work mainly consists of remaining behind his desk in his skyscraper office, monitoring stock prices on a bank of computers, and constantly and consistently buying and trading stocks via speaker phone. Outside of his office, he has the illusion of everything; wife, family, pool, estate, limousine, and an endless collection of priceless works of art, and that’s just the icing on the cake as far as Gekko is concerned.

He’s a man who simply likes to win, no more, no less. The film’s most famous moment comes when Gekko is giving a speech to fellow brokers stating the now classic movie quote, “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed works. Greed is right. Greed captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit”.

Gekko is looking for newcomer he can count on to work for him, and he senses one in Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen), a young stock trader. Fox comes from a working class family. His father, played by real life father Martin Sheen, is a long time aircraft mechanic and union leader, and has never had the pleasure of experiencing a wealthy life.

In a nutshell, Fox is power-hungry, and willing to go to any lengths to becoming a Gordon Gekko himself. Through trading insider information obtained from his father, Fox succeeds in opening an account with Gekko, and a partnership soon begins. Gekko then requests that Fox gain inside information, and to spy on a competitor, even though Fox questions this assignment as possibly being illegal.

Stone gives the film a masterful structure. The younger broker is impressed by the towering presence of Gekko, then is seduced by him, then is eventually betrayed by him, and then he attempts to turn the tables. A lot of movies talk about having it all and the nice idea of being successful and filthy rich, but not very often is the lifestyle itself been illustrated so perfectly, which is exactly what Stone does with this film.

Everything from the perfect office to the ultimate beach house to the limos right down to the seamless interior decorated apartments is captured here, making the viewer almost wish they had it all right there and then. Fans of the movie Boiler Room remember the scene where all of the central characters rejoiced in a viewing of Wall Street; reciting lines from the film the way a minister would recite quotes from the bible. It was a clear moment in that movie, which was Boiler Room couldn’t have been made if Wall Street had not existed, so to speak.

Douglas is nothing short of powerful in the role of Gordon Gekko. It was the role that gave the actor a big boost, even though he was already a major star before this movie came along. However, it was this film that led to more challenging work for Douglas that would lie ahead in such provocative films as Falling Down, Disclosure, The American President, and The Game.

The same credit should go to Charlie Sheen, who I think has always been a tremendously talented actor that never got any credit that he deserved. I’m still questioning why he was denied a nomination for supporting actor in Platoon. Even though his recent choice of movie roles aren’t very noteworthy, Sheen made his mark in the late 80s and early 90s as one of our finest young actors, and his performance in this film, as well as Platoon are pure examples of his accomplishment as an actor.

As mentioned earlier, Oliver Stone wasted no time after winning his first Oscar, and his decision to dive right in to make another movie turned out to be a very good one, as Wall Street resulted in being another triumph for the genius filmmaker. Though it pales in comparison to some of his more groundbreaking films like Born on the 4th of July and JFK, it is nonetheless a strong film with tremendous insight of a world that has never been captured in a film before.

Video ***1/2

For this 20th Anniversary Edition, Fox has kept the anamorphic presentation at the same tremendous quality of the previous DVD release. The image quality remains quite lively, and a strong level of colors that glow throughout the movie, and an impressive level of clearness.

Audio ***

The same can be said for the sound quality, as the 5.1 mix remains quite strong. Essentially, this is a movie of dialogue, so there isn’t much here to show off a sound system with, but the sound quality is nonetheless superior and the dialogue comes through flawlessly.

Features ****

For this new edition, Fox has indeed upgraded the extras in a phenomenal Two Disc release.

Disc One features a fascinating commentary with Oliver Stone.

Disc Two contains an introduction by Stone, two documentaries; “Greed is Good” and “Money Never Sleeps: The Making of Wall Street”, both of which are extremely informative and run close to an hour long. Also Included are Deleted Scenes with optional director commentary.

Summary:

In a terrific new 20th Anniversary Edition, Wall Street remains a one of a kind look at the cutthroat, heart-pumping, sell your soul to anyone and everyone world of the stock market.

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