In his first full length film, a guy named J. C. Chandor decided to play the role of a smart ass after the facts were laid opened. His 2011 film Margin Call sends us back to the beginning (strictly formaly speaking) of economic crisis 3 years prior to its release. You'll probably wonder how someone who's making his feature debut got actors of this caliber to star in it. Ahh, that's because he's a confident smart ass. He probably just sent them his research-clever script, guessing that actors like Spacey and Irons will hardly refuse to play characters they can take on with such ease, and look so smooth while doing it.
First five minutes indicate a different picture from one we got at the end. It shows people getting fired. I was glad to soon discover we are not dealing with flipside of Up In the Air. One of the fired employees was in the middle of reaserch connected with the company. Since that went down the drain, he left the disc to his young colleague. Out of curiosity, he started digging, and found out something to trigger the chain reaction.
To cut the long story short, the company lost its step on the market. Thair way of dealing has been useless for few weaks. The damage is in numbers ordinary humen don't know how to write. The kid quickly informs his boss (we are talking about the time of the day post the working hours), and from there on, faster than you could imagine, all the heads start appearing. Those include, in order of importance: Will Emerson (Paul Bettany), Sam Rogers (Kevin Spacey), Sarah Robertson (Demi Moore), Jared Cohen (Simon Baker) and finally John Tuld, played by Jeremy Irons. He has a helicopter. No one with a private jet appears. That must mean he's the man in charge. His decision is quick and ruthless - to sell, before customers find out they are buying pure fiction.
It's a dark comedy masquerading as high drama, asking the good people to laugh at being screwd by a bunch of guys whose dream was to spend their lives sitting in high offices, doing a job they have only a partial understanding of and making a living out of it. At some point those partial people will meet, form a gigantic, self-centred corporate brain, decide what steps to take in certain future period, and than diverge, not approaching to a whole for one inch. Or wanting to for that matter. What Chandor's movie suggests is that disintegration is not an option. It can't be even if they want it to. Most what can happen is some sort of shapeshifting, with the consequences that can't have a major impact for those who remain within those walls. As for the others, well...
I don't see where all the praise for acting comes from. I mean, should we really be so impressed when we see actors like Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons first and foremost, but also Paul Bettany and Stanley Tuccci, here cast against type, looking so confident in these roles? They do, off course, but that's only because of their natural talent. All the nuances characterwise are minor, like in the scene in front of the building when Spacey is reminded of his son, or when he's burying a dog in the yard of his former home. His track record is too impressive for us to consider those scenes as anything more than a routine.
What the movie does bring is a believable, sharp look, script which doesn't pander to audiences, but also doesn't try to gain aditional points on that account and a director who doesn't do anything more than what a first time filmmaker should. If you take it the right way, it should be entertaining enough.