I'm always skeptical of sequels, particularly those made long after the original.
Yet 1987's "Wall Street" is such an entertaining film that surely its sequel, "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps," would be decent. After all, Michael Douglas, even 23 years later, is still an outstanding actor.
Well, I should have gone with my original queasy feeling. "Wall Street 2" flat out stinks.
And while Douglas is still a terrific actor, he had zero help in this mess. The supporting cast was awful, the direction uninspired and the script lame.
Douglas is Gordon "Greed is Good" Gekko, the powerful Wall Street trader who went too far to make money. He ended up in prison as a result of insider trading.
It's now 2008 and Gekko is out of prison and trying to get back in the game. Gekko is estranged from his daughter, Winnie Gekko (Carey Mulligan), because she holds him responsible for her brother's suicide.
Winnie is engaged to marry Jake Moore (Shia LaBeouf), an up-and-coming Wall Street trader.
Jake works for one of the biggest investment firms on Wall Street. As the U.S. economy tumbles, his firm crumbles and is sold to vultures for pennies on the dollar (sound familiar?).
Jake's mentor is destroyed in the process and he sets out to get revenge. He goes to Gordon Gekko for help -- a move designed by the screenwriters to create tension and drama.
Unfortunately, LaBeouf is miscast as a Wall Street shark. It's like doing a sequel to Lassie and casting a gerbil as the family's heroic pet. That gerbil is never going to rescue anybody from a well.
The premise of "Wall Street 2" might have worked if Jake were an equal to Gekko, someone who was tough enough and smart enough to take him on.
And Mulligan, too, is horribly miscast as Gekko's daughter and Jake's fiance. It's hard to grasp why this person would be attracted to Jake. She also doesn't seem believable as an upset daughter. It didn't seem like she was holding much of a grudge against dear old dad. In fact, she didn't have any strong feelings -- good or bad -- toward him.
LaBeouf and Mulligan are professional actors who have done well in other films, but they clearly didn't have a clue what to do with the script.
Director Oliver Stone, director of the original, was really lost here, too. He did nothing to put this wandering script on track.
"Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" is awful.
Rick Eskil can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 509-526-8309.