Movie Review: Margin Call

Margin call is movie about the financial meltdown of the fall of 2008.

At an unnamed Wall Street firm, the day starts out with a huge layoff of 80% of its staff. One of the risk analysts who got the axe slips a thumb drive containing the data to a project he has been working on to a junior analyst, who works into the night to figure out what might be going on. He calls his boss, who calls his boss, and by 2:00 am, the CEO is landing on the roof in a helicopter. By 5:00 am they come to the conclusion that they have to dump all their toxic assets the next morning as soon as the market opens, before the world finds out what’s going on. They betray their own customers, and of course, they will go out of business promptly. That is all planned.

Since it’s now 2011, we know that this went on in a lot of firms on Wall Street in those days. Many have gone under. The government issued a bailout package, and Obama won the election.

This movie, with a high-caliber cast, including Demi Moore and Kevin Spacey, exhibits good dialog and characterization, but it didn’t touch me.

The magnitude of the crisis didn’t come through. The dialog included little specifics. Was I supposed to be impressed by people standing around in bathrooms in highrises in the middle of the night worried about their million dollar a year jobs that would go away in the morning?

Margin call got 85% on the Tomatometer and three and a half stars by Ebert. But I just walked out of the theater into the balmy Maui night thinking that while this could have been a gripping story and excellent drama, it just fizzled along and left me wanting for more.

Rating - Two Stars

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