Give this much to Oliver Stone: His movies are never boring.
And, somewhere within the overstuffed blend of agitprop and melodrama that is Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, there lies a lean cautionary tale about the dangers of unchecked capitalism -- as if the reality of the actual Wall Street weren't example enough.
But Stone is never content to just make one movie; he always makes several, then squeezes them all together into one engorged package, chockablock with gaudy visuals, oversized characters and unchecked passion. There are larger-than-life villains and scrappy heroes and everything in between.
Yes, Stone is telling a story that encapsulates the financial meltdown that is one of the defining events of the Bush era (the other being the preemptive, wrong-headed war on Iraq).
He's also preaching a message about the cancerous effects of greed (and he does, indeed, describe it -- and not inaccurately -- as a cancer) and the bubble-like nature of modern economic booms. In case you don't get the picture, he trains his camera on big, loopy soap bubbles floating tenuously into the sky -- not once, but twice.
Plus he's telling an overwrought tale of parents and children -- fathers and sons, dads and daughters, mentors and protégés, ad infinitum. Just to make sure you get that point, he shows us Goya's painting, "Saturn Devouring His Son." The only thing missing is Stone himself, peeking in at the edge of the screen (or perhaps showing up at the theater in person to nudge you in the ribs) and saying, "Get it?"
This isn't to say that WS2 isn't entertaining. Whether he's training his camera on examples of conspicuous consumption (a montage of splashy, flashy earrings and necklaces worn by women attending a charity event at the Metropolitan Museum of Art) or having a good wallow in those parent-child emotions, Stone is never less than juicy - although never even within spitting distance of subtle.
This sequel to his 1987 hit starts with Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) getting out of prison after a 10-year bit for insider trading and fraud.