J.C. Chandor (director)
Paramount Home Entertainment (studio)
107 mins (length)
12 November 2012 (released)
15 November 2012
The cubicle-shaped lives of people typing meaningless gibberish into a computer for 8 hours a day is seemingly a genre. J.C. Chandor's film slots neatly into it with its time-condensed drama of highly-paid executives dealing frantically with a corporate meltdown at an investment bank.
The film opens with a cynically brutal downsizing in motion. Employees are ruthlessly excised from the company, their mobile phones shut off before they even have time to walk ten steps from the building. Stanley Tucci's character is discarded while in the middle of discovering a serious problem with the company's books, and passes the duty to Zachary Quinto. What follows is an escalating form of passing the buck and soul-searching as characters deal with the notion of ethics in a business that often is impeded by such a thing rearing its head.
The direction and soundtrack are minimal to the point of almost non-existent, there's no auteur voice or stylistic vision. It's almost reminiscent of 90's efforts like Glengarry Glen Ross, In The Company Of Men and the like, though lacking any real bite.
Paul Bettany has a weird accent that hovers between English and faux-American which becomes distracting, although his scene explaining how he burns through 2 million dollars in a year is pretty amusing.
The film is buoyed by the class of acting talent involved. Heavyweights like Jeremy Irons, Kevin Spacey, and a still-gorgeous Demi Moore clashing over a boardroom table brings spark to an otherwise dreary landscape of dimly lit corridors and poker faced suited characters. There are no larger than life villains bent on world domination, just a group of powerful individuals fighting for survival no matter what the cost.
As we have already seen this type of incident in action in real life over the last decade or so, their selfish survival instincts are a human trait that fascinates just as much as it repels.