(director: Jodie Foster; screenwriters: Jamie Linden, Alan DiFiore, Jim Kouf, story by Alan DiFiore, Jim Kouf; cinematographer: Matthew Libatique; editor: Matt Chesse; music: Dominic Lewis; cast: Georgw Clooney (Lee Gates), Julia Roberts (Patty Fenn), Jack O’Connell (Kyle Budwell), Dominic West (Walt Camby), Caitriana Balfe (Diane Lester), Giancarlo Esposito (Captain Powell), Christopher Denham (Ron Sprecher), Lenny Venito (Lenny), Chris Bauer (Lt. Nelson), Dennis Boutsikaris (Avery Goodloe), Emily Meade (Molly), Condola Rashad (Bree), Aaron Yoo (Won Joon); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Daniel Dubiecki, Lara Alameddine, George Clooney, Grant Heslov; TriStar; 2016)

“Inane Wall Street thriller.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Jodie Foster(“The Beaver”/”Home for the Holidays”/”Little Man Tate”) can’t build on suspense as she weakly helms this inane Wall Street thriller, one that provides a tinny lecture on the amoral dangers of Wall Street and an insipid story that’s too absurd to take seriously. Its emotionally vapid characters and its heavy-footed try at comic acting by the star seemed cheesy. Writers Jamie Linden, Jim Kouf, and Alan DiFiore manage to say nothing that hasn’t been said before. For the sake of box office, it tries its hardest to be crowd-pleasing, showing a sympathy for the stupid terrorist- victim, casting aspersions on news coverage and having the Wall Street villain get some kind of punishment tacked on in the end.

The bombastic financial pundit host of a TV financial show, the slippery Lee Gates (Georgw Clooney), a Jim Cramer-clone, advises viewers on stocks to buy. While on live, the disgruntled minimum wage trucker Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell) appears with a pistol and places an explosive vest on the host. He takes Gates hostage and blames him for his life saving loses of $60,000, after the stock lost $800M of shareholder money because of a phony computer glitch.

While the hostage scene is televised, the disgruntled Kyle uses his air time to warn others of how crooked Wall Street is and wants revenge on the greedy evil-doers. Meanwhile Gates goes from insincere slickster to a heartfelt one, and, if you can believe, bonds with the vic. By the time we get to the climax everything is implausible.

The show’s harried producer, Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts), using an invisible earpiece, walks the frightened Gates through the hostage situation, that brings in a heavy police presence and a big TV audience. The Wall Street villain is Walt Camby (Dominic West), who is pictured as the corrupt financial CEO. His PR person, Caitriana Balfe (Diane Lester), incredulously feels betrayed by her crooked boss and thereby stabs him in the back in retaliation. This leads to his downfall, in an action scene that is unintentionally funny for its awkwardness.