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With the release of Oliver Stone‘s Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps set for April, its publicity game is just starting to ramp up. Fitting then that Vanity Fair, former mag-home of the late Dominick Dunne, has a new photo shoot for this sequel of modern greed and murder courtesy of flashy, money-strapped photog Annie Leibovitz. After the jump is a new image of Michael Douglas‘s Gordon Gekko, a vacant behind-the-scenes vid of the shoot, and thoughts on Gekko’s lease on life post-prison.

At the above VF link, there’s a quote from Douglas about Gekko’s influence and power in the current global marketplace: “Gekko couldn’t manipulate the markets like he did back then. It’s so big, so huge, that to be a minor player you need to be a major bank.” One detail I was glad to see in the script by Stone’s reputable pal Allan Loeb (Things We Lost in the Fire) was that Gekko has become understandably frugal with his time after being released from jail. He’s taken a figurative beating in the years since Bud Fox‘s whistle-blowing in the ’87 original, and it’s made him borderline neurotic in his obsession with minutes and seconds.

Oliver Stone adds, “When Gekko comes out of prison, in the beginning of this movie, he essentially has to redefine himself. He’s looking for that second chance.” But by no means has hard time led to Gekko softening or finding religion—he just seems more publicity- and legal-savvy. Stone and Douglas will have fun with the washed-up rep that others have of Gekko in the sequel.

It was also promising to see that Gekko is given a fair amount of screen time, though Shia LaBeouf‘s precocious trader, who’s from a quasi-biographical unprivileged background, is front-and-center. (I’m assuming, given the quick casting and production time, that the screenplay was followed faithfully during a now completed shoot on location in New York City and Dubai.) Reading the script, the film’s “villain”—a wealthy string-puller (Josh Brolin) who may have been involved in the murder of LaBeouf’s mentor—seemed tailor-made for the actor. Refined yet reptilian.

If the script had a weak point—it notably landed on the Black List—I felt like it pulled a punch or two in regard to realism when placing LaBeouf in a debauched situation. As a protagonist, he’s a bit too naive and heart-of-gold for the profession he’s in. Compared to the ’80s setting of the original, the platter for gluttony is shinier here, but there’s a look-don’t-touch vibe. Charlie Sheen‘s Bud Fox and his ethics felt more believable for his decade. In the years leading up to our current economic free-fall, the one lesson that’s clear is that it wasn’t just ultra-bad apples that got us here. A fresh-faced generation leant an eager hand. And even with all of Sheen’s tabloid-exploits, I would have liked to see his Bud Fox get more than a cameo via a news broadcast, which I’m guessing will simply get a brief laugh on screen a la the cameo by Donald Trump.

 

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