I've been wanting to see Margin Call for quite a while, for a couple of reasons. First, just LOOK AT THAT CAST. I'll talk about that in more depth in a minute. I almost got a tremor thinking about it. And second, because the movie was about the Wall Street collapse, I knew my husband would be an eager participant in the watching (usually there is some kind of arm-twisting involved in the movies I select).
For some reason, this film was not widely released, and I believe never came to Orlando. So Netflix it was.
The actors and the corporation represented are fictitious, but it doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out that it is pretty closely based on the Lehman Brothers. The film covers what I would think would be the most catastrophic 24 hours of the financial disaster of 2007 and onward.
In the midst of a massive layoff, the head of Risk Management (Stanley Tucci - Julie & Julia, The Lovely Bones) is escorted out of the building. But before he leaves, he hands a USB stick to one of his analysts (Zachary Quinto - Star Trek) and tells him that it is an unfinished project, and to "be careful". The analyst takes a peek at the information on the stick, and after burning some late hours, realizes that it is a model that basically (I'm cutting through some brainiac financial globbity gook) the company has overextended itself and is perched on total ruin. The analyst calls his immediate boss (Paul Bettany - hottie) and his colleague (Penn Badgley), who then calls the next boss in the food chain (Kevin Spacey - too many great movies to list), who calls the next guy up (Simon Baker - The Mentalist), who calls the Big Poobah (Jeremy Irons) who arrives on a helicopter. Emergency meeting at 2:00am. The ship is going down.
What results is, in layman's terms, a sell-off of the entire company's assets, which are worth nothing. This is an attempt (ultimately unsuccessful, if we are to draw comparisons to Lehman and Bear Stearns) to get out first and grab as much cash as possible on the way down, and all the while ruining everyone else who bought their "toxic assets" as well.
It may sound like a huge downer. And it is, but in the same way that it is a downer to watch the Titanic go down or an earthquake turn the Earth into a wasteland. It is fascinating to watch from the safety of your living room.
Because the hubby is a financial guy, and he literally came home for weeks (months?) on end talking about the financial collapse and why it happened, I felt like I understood most of what was going on here. What I didn't understand, he explained. I'm not totally sure everyone that watches this movie would get the finer points.
But you don't have to understand how a tectonic plate moves or how to measure seismic waves to understand that whole cities are being swallowed, or that tsunamis just took out California, right? You just know it is BAD. Even if you don't know a derivative from your derriere, you know that when a company this big goes down, it is going to suck for everyone. I think we have living proof of that at this point.
And you can just sit back and ogle the amazing acting going on here. This movie is seriously loaded with it. I can't even single out the best acting - it was all good. With one exception.
One of the few complaints I would have is the casting of Demi Moore as the Chief Risk Officer. Really?! I'm sorry, she just doesn't pull it off. I cannot watch her try to act smart and find it believable. Other than that, you are going to have a field day watching these guys. Even if you care nothing about the financial crisis (which really, affects every person in the US, and beyond, just sayin) it is worth it to watch this movie for the acting.