When it feels like the universe is conspiring to ruin your life, it can be a real help to pin all the trouble on a single person. Redirecting the consequences of bad luck or poor decision-making to a specific scapegoat has a way of making a person feel more in control; the problem is right there, this is what it looks like, this is how to stop it. For instance, say you’re Joseph Schmo and you’ve fallen upon hard times after making some bad investments recommended to you by a Jim Cramer-esque financial guru on TV. You can either take stock of your extant assets and re-tool for a sunnier outcome in the financial quarter to come, or you can storm the TV studio and take the man you believe to be responsible for your plight in life hostage at gunpoint.
“Man slowly drags himself out of debt via safe investments” doesn’t really have the X-factor that wows studio heads in pitch meetings, so the new film Money Monster instead follows the second outcome delineated above. George Clooney plays Lee Gates, money wizard and host of the fiscal-advice TV program that lends the film its title. Jack O’Connell, hungry for a meaty role after impressing audiences in 2014’s Unbroken, plays the psychopath (or is he the only one really seeing things clearly!?) who takes Gates hostage. Julia Roberts adds considerable wattage to the cast as Gates’ producer, who guides him through the tense hostage scenario through his earpiece. Though the most exciting name isn’t even in the cast; Jodie Foster assumes the director’s chair for this film, her first feature since the underwhelming The Beaver in 2011. Since then, she’s done some fine work as interim director for House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black, so Money Monster will be one to keep an eye on despite Foster’s spotty track record as a director of features.