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Film / Money Monster

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Money Monster is a 2016 thriller film directed by Jodie Foster. The film's story involves Lee Gates (George Clooney), a TV personality for a financial cable show called "Money Monster" that investigates the various financial positions of public companies. His show mostly consists of bombastic sketches and wild exaggerations of various financial situations, instead of actual journalism. It's earned Gates a steady paycheck though, and everything seems well.

However, the large corporation IBIS Global Capital undergoes a massive loss in its stock earnings, losing around $800 million dollars, allegedly, due to a computer glitch. Not long after, a deliveryman named Kyle bursts into the studio during one of Gates's shows and holds everyone inside hostage. Armed with a gun and fitting Gates with an explosive vest triggered by a Dead Man's Switch, Kyle demands that the broadcast continue and that the real reason behind IBIS's loss be made public. With his own personality and the help of his director Patty (Julia Roberts), Gates must not only find out the truth behind the monetary loss, but also find out how to escape the situation alive.


This movie provides examples of:

  • Above Good and Evil: Walt Camby attempts to make one of these speeches when Kyle demands that he admit what he did was wrong. Kyle's not interested.
  • Alliterative Title: Money Monster refers to both:
  • Anti-Villain: Kyle is a Well-Intentioned Extremist looking to expose what he believes is a corporate cover-up. After he's revealed to be right and especially that the bomb is a fake, he becomes an Unscrupulous Hero and completely loses the villain angle.
  • A Fool and His New Money Are Soon Parted: Kyle invested $60,000 dollars he inherited from his mother in IBIS stock, just in time for it to go through the $800 million loss. Pretty much everybody points out how stupid that was of him to do.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Corrupt Corporate Executive Camby has a very good reputation, and even his own employees consider him to be an "open book."
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  • Bribe Backfire: This drives the entire plot. Camby invested heavily in a South African mine when the stock was low and attempted to bribe the union leader to lift it, which would have sent the mining stock soaring and netting IBIS billions in profits. Instead the union leader refused, causing the $800 million loss at the heart of the conspiracy.
  • Bullying a Dragon: After Kyle puts the bomb vest on Walt Camby and demands he admit what he did was wrong, rather than just doing what the volatile man pointing a gun at him and holding the explosive trigger says he antagonizes Kyle and tries to negotiate his way out of the situation. The explosive vest may have been fake, but there was no way for Camby to know that.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Kyle accuses Lee of ruining his life while touting Ibis as a unique investment opportunity, and called it safer than a savings account. Lee replies that he uses that same terminology for a different stock on every new show he does, and is honestly surprised when the tapes confirm that he did call the stock that safe.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Even though the first thing Kyle does is fire his gun to prove that it's real, and it's onscreen pretty much whenever he is from then on, it's still a shock when Ron actually gets shot with it.
  • The Conspiracy: Kyle hijacks Money Monster because he believes that there is one of these going on at IBIS, and it is intent on hiding the true reasons behind the $800 million loss. He turns out to be right.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Big Bad Walt Camby turns out to be this, taking large funds from the IBIS company and using it to invest in a South African mine that could net them a billion dollar profit once he bribed a union leader to lift a strike. And Avery at least also qualifies as The Dragon as he made it his mission to cover up everything.
    • Averted with Diane Lester who is the only Ibis executive who actively helps the main characters uncover the conspiracy.
  • Dead Man's Switch: The vest Kyle puts on Lee has this feature, and Kyle has to keep the trigger pressed in his hand to prevent it from going off. This is the primary reason the cops don't immediately try to shoot Kyle when they have a chance.
  • Foreshadowing: The fact that the bomb is fake is foreshadowed twice during the movie:
    • Among the many things that Kyle's girlfriend yells at him during her "The Reason You Suck" Speech is to wonder since when does he know how to build bombs.
    • The NYPD bomb expert points out that Kyle placed the receiver for the detonator in a spot where it can be shot off without instantly killing the person wearing the vest, indicating to the audience that Kyle really doesn't know a lot about making suicide vests.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Kyle is an everyday deliveryman who manages to take a widely viewed cable show hostage on-air and keep the police at bay for a long time with just a handgun and an explosive vest (even if it's fake). On top of that, he's able to initiate an investigation into IBIS by coercing a confession out of the CEO and ruining their plans.
  • Global Ignorance: Lee Gates thinks Swahili is South Africa's official language. He's called out for this.
  • Heroic Bystander: Lee eventually becomes this. In an attempt to keep Kyle from setting off the detonator, he tries to dig for the truth about what IBIS is doing. Then he convinces Kyle to go with him to the IBIS headquarters to dig the truth out of Camby and keep the danger away from his crew. In the end, thanks to Lee's actions, Kyle is the only fatality, though he didn't want the man to die.
  • Honest Corporate Executive: Diane Lester, Chief Communications Officer for IBIS, is the only person in the* Hr company who makes a genuine effort to help the hostages in the studio by coming up with the answers Kyle wants.
  • Hope Spot: The cops track down Kyle's girlfriend and ask her to talk to him into letting the hostages go. She appears on camera, ready to talk...and tears into him for wasting their savings on one stock, and being so stupid as to conduct a hostage situation, even telling him to kill himself. Kyle seems like he'll nearly do it before Lee considers another option.
  • Hostage Situation: Kyle sneaks into Lee's studio and takes him hostage on live television in order to force IBIS to give him some answers.
  • Humiliation Conga: Camby's fraud is exposed on live television, he faces SEC investigation, and he is humiliated on the internet.
    • An enraged Gates punches Camby in the face right in front of the cops, who are so disgusted with him they refuse to arrest Gates.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: After having been asked to test an erectile cream that the show is going to feature, Ron gets called and ordered to take a camera crew to Ibis headquarters while he's having sex with another employee.
  • Irony: The only person at IBIS genuinely concerned with transparency and getting to the bottom of what caused the $800 million loss is the company's chief communications officer, whose job description basically amounts to spinning bullshit that will make the company look good.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • Kyle's girlfriend tears into Kyle for being so stupid as to invest all his inheritance into one stock, and that his solution to take people hostage is even worse. While asking him to kill himself on live TV is going too far what she's saying is right. She also ends up being right that he doesn't know how to make bombs. It's enough for Kyle to get a Heel Realization, and for Lee to help him find another solution.
    • Walt Camby is a complete and utter tool, but he is not wrong when he points out that nobody was asking any questions about the shady things he was doing so long as he kept making money for his investors.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Gates.
  • Large Ham: In-Universe whenever Lee is on the air. Not surprising considering he seems to draw heavy inspiration from Jim Cramer.
  • Mad Bomber: Kyle is threatening to blow Lee to kingdom come with an explosive vest if he does not get the answers he seeks. It's a bluff.
  • Mega-Corp: IBIS Global Capital is this within the film, being a powerful and virtually unquestioned business that was attempting a risky investment that lost the $800 million of stockholder money.
  • Memetic Mutation: In-Universe. Walt Camby's reaction to Kyle throwing the bomb's trigger at him has become the subject of humorous edits on Youtube come the end of the movie.
  • Mood Whiplash: Gates' ridiculously over the top theatrics on prior shows contrast the very real situation transpiring live. Indeed when people initially tune in they think the hostage situation is another silly gimmick.
  • Never My Fault: Played with. Kyle initially holds this viewpoint, blaming both Lee Gates for (exaggeratedly) suggesting his viewers buy IBIS stock and Walt Camby for allegedly (later proven correct) causing the $800 million dollar loss. He conveniently ignores the fact that he himself had to willingly buy $60,000 worth of IBIS stock for this to happen, an amount that almost no middle or lower class American with a modicum of common sense would try to buy. He eventually realizes how wrong he is when his pregnant girlfriend tears him a new one by pointing out how moronic this action was. Now of course, this still doesn't change the fact that stupidity is less than a good reason to swindle people of all their money, but Kyle's continued denial of any kind of fault in the matter (he blames Lee more for his stage show promoting IBIS stock than his own personal decision to actually buy the stock) that makes him come off as this trope.
    • By the end of the day, while Camby's actions ARE inexcusable, it is wrong of Kyle to blame Lee for believing Camby's lies since he believed them as well and it was his recklessness that led to his ruin.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Lee appears to essentially be a fictionalized version of Jim Cramer.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Lee points out to Kyle that he's doing better in the romance department since Lee is divorced. In fact, Lee's sympathy towards Kyle is what spurs the man to consider surrendering to the police and going to Camby, the heart of the matter.
  • Now What?: At the end of the film, Lee and Patty eat takeout and watch the news of Camby getting investigated. They talk about what they'll do, but nothing is resolved.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Ron and the security chief both have shocked, alarmed reactions when they look at their TV screens and see the hostage situation going on.
    • Diane Lester is alarmed and temporarily cuts her live feed to the show upon finding out that Kyle blames her boss for his problems and intended to take him hostage before he cancelled his in-person appearance.
  • Pet the Dog: Before his Heel Realization, Kyle makes Lee drink water when the latter thinks he's having a heart attack, and clarifies that Lee is having a panic attack so he's not dying.
  • Properly Paranoid: Kyle. It turns out he was right about Camby swindling everyone.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Kyle's girlfriend absolutely rips into him live on the air, belittling his manhood, character, choices in life and delivering a coup de grace by announcing that "You cry when we fuck, you pasty little bitch!" Even the audience is shocked.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: All the events of the movie are kicked off by the fact that Mambo, the South African mining union leader refused to accept the money Camby wanted to bribe him with to lift the strike, causing the $800 million loss at the heart of the plot.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Walt Camby tries to invoke this, saying that businesses are more focused on earning as much money as possible regardless of legality. This turns out to be subverted, however, as the SEC is investigating him by the end of the film and will likely throw him in jail for decades for his swindle. Which of course would never have happened if it wasn't for the chain of events that led to the revelation and the existence of irrefutable evidence of the crime.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: By the end of the film, while the truth is out, few care as much as they should, Walt Camby might not escape justice but there are still no measures taken to prevent history from repeating itself, Kyle's dead, and the American public has quickly moved on without learning their lesson. The only potential benefit of the whole ordeal us that Lee and Patty will continue to work together, but it's unknown if Lee will reshape his show to be more substance and less flash.
  • Shoot the Hostage: The police intend to do this to Lee. Downplayed and justified; they are going for a nonlethal shot to the kidney to destroy the receiver on the explosive vest, and they figure Lee has an 80 percent chance of surviving it. Lee eventually learns of their plan and dodges the bullet.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Kyle's girlfriend is pregnant, which invokes this trope as it becomes apparent the police may shoot him. They do, although unusually for the trope, his child's mother hates him at the time of his death.
  • Suicide by Cop: How Kyle goes out in the end.
  • Suicide Mission: Kyle goes into the studio fully aware that he's probably not going to survive his hostage-taking.
  • Swiss-Cheese Security: Kyle has an extremely easy time getting into the studio because all the security guards in the building seem to be lazy, incompetent or both.
  • Tempting Fate: At the beginning of the movie, Patty complaints that what they do isn't real journalism.
  • Those Two Guys: The two Icelandic hackers share all of their screen time and provide some comic relief.
  • Wham Line: "It's not a real bomb."
    • Despite being obviously taken aback, Lee instructs Kyle to keep pretending it's real because he realizes that the cops would tear Kyle apart before they got to Camby if they knew it was fake.