This great, great ensemble piece competently teaches us a history lesson about a complex but very important topic! Director Adam McKay ("The Other Guys") with the able screen-writing assistance of Charles Randolph, was inspired by Michael Lewis's book, written about real people and real events (the bursting of the housing bubble and the implosion of the big banks).
We have a guy who seems to have Asperger's, two youngsters barely out of college and two fund management teams, each of whom separately take a look at how the moral and the amoral butt heads on Wall Street. This film is funny, satisfying and educational, although...by the time the "Credit Default Swap" is in full swing, we share our heroes' collective despair. We can see that much of what goes on is a gigantic game of poker: These guys are basically betting AGAINST the future of the American housing market...and we see them as the GOOD guys!
Here is part of this brilliant ensemble:
It's a shame to leave out other names and characters, but suffice it to say, many more fine actors deserve special mention, but space does not allow....
Some of the photography and editing is too herky-jerky for my taste but I don't care. They bring to dramatic life the same scenario that made us cringe in the award-winning 2010 documentary "Inside Job." In this new dramatized version, our screening audience laughed as the characters occasionally dropped the fourth wall and made ironic comments directly to us. Look for unusual cameos, plus the usual strip clubs and a barrage of F-bombs (it IS Wall Street!), but the lessons are well taught; now if only some of those bankers would go to jail! By the way, they have started the same scheme again, only under a new name. "If it walks like a duck..."