Movie Review – ‘The Big Short’

“In one of 2015’s best films, McKay masterfully introduces us to a handful of investors that witness Wall Street’s version of the Titanic plowing full-steam ahead towards impending financial disaster.”

Patrick King, REEL BRIEF

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Leave it to the director of the wildly amusing comedy hits Anchorman and Step Brothers to explain the 2008 banking crisis with a firm, and yet playful and understandable touch.  Using equal investments of superb casting and unique storytelling, Adam McKay’s latest film unabashedly describes the true story behind America’s fraudulent home loans pushed by greedy banks.

In one of 2015’s best films, McKay masterfully introduces us to a handful of investors that witness Wall Street’s version of the Titanic plowing full-steam ahead towards impending financial disaster. These affable money geeks make chatting about investment portfolios and subprime mortgages not just interesting, but even humorous.

The sensational cast, led by standout performances from Christian Bale and Steve Carell, paint toxic home loan practices where willful wrongdoing by money-hungry banks becomes accepted in the industry, almost like a fixed rate.  An exceptional ensemble–that also includes Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt–find their warnings of a housing collapse met with laughter and disbelief before, ultimately, being ignored by the financial world completely.

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The Big Short is an exhilarating must-see movie because it tells us about dire economic scenarios in a fast-paced, straight-forward, and unique way. Bale’s quirky film role (Dr. Michael Burry) unleashes a Rain Man persona upon naysayers on Wall Street…only counting thousands of questionable individual home loans, instead of dropped toothpicks in a restaurant.

Viewers will find themselves mesmerized by Bale’s brilliant immersion into the real-life one-eyed, sleepless hedge fund manager.  Likewise, Carell’s portrayal of the personally pained Mark Baum, is both fascinating and rewarding to watch unfold on the big-screen.

To ease the troublesome banking terminology for viewers, Director McKay invokes seldom used movie-making techniques to further viewer interest and sidestep any graduate-level economics discussions.  He wily tosses in three stellar cameo appearances by Hollywood A-listers–as infomercial hosts–to explain market terms such as collateral debt obligation and subprime loans.  Economics 101 lessons simplified by the likes of pop-star Selena Gomez and Australian bombshell Margot Robbie, keep this film moving at a high-octane pace–avoiding all signs of plot stagnation.

Aside from the rapid-talking and star-studded cast, The Big Short bravely breaks down the 4th wall between cast and audience at times–injecting lighter moments into a film that exposes the real culprits behind the banking crisis eight years ago.

By breaking down the complicated banking system into more understandable terms within an engrossing storyline, The Big Short deserves praise as one of 2015’s finest films.  This dramedy meticulously provides a public service by raising our awareness of shady banking practices concerning a very serious topic—money. Our money.

Grade: A

“The Big Short” is rated R for pervasive language and some sexuality/nudity.  Its running time is 2 hours and 10 minutes.

© 2015, Patrick. All rights reserved.



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