Too Big to Fail Reviews
This is certainly not a film that would be for mass consumption, thus HBO. That being said, it has a solid cast with Hurt, Woods and Giamatti at the helm. One reason why this is an issue is because of the jargon; another is that an understanding of the cause for the crash is pretty much a prerequisite to understand the half of what transpires in various conversations. There's a lot of terms being thrown around like "puts," "leverage," "securities," "toxic debt" and the sort. I'm no investor of great means and experience, an understanding of investments, markets and such, but I have a fair grasps of terms and issues; nevertheless, with the speed at which jargon is being thrown around in the film, it would be easy for a novice to get lost.
So if this is your thing, and you know something about investing and markets, the money system, economics and such, this is a film for you.. Otherwise, most would be pretty lost and not gain much from all that transpires. But the one thing you will get, or at least should, is how our government and financial elite were equally self-serving and complicate in the near cataclysmic disaster of 2008, and because of such, damn near brought the world-wide financial system to a halt and possibly the end of civilization as we know it. Thus Trump. Yes, big stuff indeed.
The movie feels almost like a disaster movie as you watch each event pile up to make the train come off the rails. William Hurt does an excellent job as then Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, you feel the gravitas of the position he wields both as a government official and as a former Wall Street player himself, but you also feel the incredible strain on him as he's at the nexus of all these events.
Billy Crudup and Paul Giamatti deliver a very spot on Tim Geithner and Ben Bernanke respectively. Tony Shaloub, Bill Pullman and James Woods put in excellent performances. Topher Grace's character could have been cast better, he lacks the gravitas to convince me he's Chief of Staff to a cabinet secretary, or a financial expert. Cynthia Nixon's character is supposed to be the entry way for the audience, asking questions we would ask, and looking at this as someone who is not a banker, she does a fair job in the role, but the character is written as too naive for her senior position in my opinion.
The movie is a docu-drama and therefore takes necessary liberties, the White House plays a tiny role in the movie, instead focusing in on Paulson, Bernanke and Geithner as if they were the only ones solving this crisis. Chris Cox is a caricature, I watched many hearings and events that the real Cox participated in and he never came off as the naive, weak-willed, over his head and PR obsessed fool the movie paints him as.
Still, I think this movie works in a way that many similar attempts at dramatizing real life events don't. I enjoyed it and have re-watched it. Its a good reminder that we came a lot closer to the end of our financial way of life than we tend to remember or realize, but it also injects some fun and humor at just the right moments, lest you slit your wrists in despair before the movie ends. Definitely worth a watch.
"Too Big to Fail" is certainly a mixed bag. It gets off to a bad start, as it seems like we've walked into a movie that has already started.(Instead of the archival news footage during the credits, the movie should have instead gone with a Star Wars like scroll: "The empire's finances were beginning to crumble and Karl Marx was laughing in his grave.") And that's not to mention a pedestrian approach to the material and waiting until most of the way through before a discussion of the key issues. However, once it gets going, the movie takes on the form of a suspenseful political thriller at times. And it works having Paulson being the focal point of the movie as Hurt is very good in the role and it helps to have one center of attention with so many characters in play. On the other hand, Paulson, here does seem a little too good to be true, holding firm with sage advice from Ben Bernanke(Paul Giamatti, who almost steals the movie with only a bowl of oatmeal) and Timothy Geithner(Billy Crudup) and assistance from Paulson's Angels(Cynthia Nixon, Topher Grace, Ayad Akhtar & Joey Plotnick).