Too Big to Fail Movie Review

Originally posted 2016-01-09 17:00:43.

Too Big to Fail Review
Grade: B

As much a documentary as film, better study up on your Wall Street jargon before you strap-in.Too Big to Fail

Chronicling the financial collapse of 2008, Too Big to Fail starts with the fallout from the government assisted bailout of Bear Stearns, one of the largest investment banks in the world. One by one pressure builds on each major financial institution as they look to stave off bankruptcy with a private sector solution or government handout.

William Hurt features as Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. Paulson works to navigate Wall Street’s biggest firms and personalities to avoid the biggest financial collapse since the Great Depression. A fantastic cast of actors, James Woods, Tony Shalhoub, Bill Pullman, and Evan Handler, play some of the world’s top executives, but with limited screen time find it difficult to be more than just another selfish suit.

The film romanticizes Paulson as our heroic leader, trying to balance the role of government versus the private sector. It feels like reach for a likeable character as Paulson is as much to blame as anyone as he pushed for greater deregulation when he served as CEO for Goldmann Sachs.

Getting out of the blocks a little slowly, the film gradually picks up the pace as the stakes become higher and higher. Playing out like a political thriller, you’ll find yourself leaning forward more and more as the movie plays out. Even knowing that TARP passes and crisis is averted, there is suspense in learning how close we came to a complete economic disaster.

If you didn’t know it then you certainly know it now; Wall Street is filled with fat cats more concerned about their bonuses than the American and world economies. Targeted to HBO’s affluent and educated audience, the movie doesn’t dumb down or overly simplify a complex, multi-layered, problem until its conclusion.

“And what do I say when they ask me why it wasn’t regulated?”
“No one wanted to. They were making too much money”

Andy Knauff