Too Big to Fail (2011)

Too Big to Fail (2011) — This movie is melodramatic and heavy-handed yet, for me anyway, still managed to be gripping and entertaining. It mostly exists as an acting showcase for the likes of William Hurt, Billy Crudup, Paul Giamatti, James Woods and a bunch of others. It dramatizes the financial crisis and subsequent bailout, which of course we are still feeling the after-effects of. I don’t want to get into politics because in this particular case politics involves a whole lot of finance which is not really an area I’m qualified to comment on. The movie centers around then-Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson (Hurt), a man who spent the better part of his career doing away with financial regulation now being forced to regulate in a big fucking way. The way Hurt deals with the heavy burden of responsibility and guilt (the latter of which may or may not be justified depending on your political leanings) make this a great performance for an actor who’s used to giving them. The movie by-and-large doesn’t really excessively demonize any character except for two. The first is Lehman Brother CEO Dick Fuld. You can tell the movie paints him as a bad guy because he IS PLAYED BY JAMES WOODS. He seems two steps down from twirling his mustache and tying a woman to train tracks. The second is the head of the SEC Christopher Cox who is portrayed as spineless and clueless. (John McCain is also referenced negatively although he is not directly depicted onscreen.) The bigger villain of the movie seems to be Wall Street culture. Anyway Too Big to Fail is worth watching mainly for the performances or if you’re nostalgic about some fairly horrible recent history.

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