Gee whiz, what kind of country is it where a businessman can’t “borrow” 418 million dollars from one of his companies (off the books, of course) and use it to temporarily plug a huge hole in another of his companies caused by a bad investment in Russian copper mines? It’s my money, isn’t it? (Well, not actually, it belongs to the stockholders, but when you handle it long enough it feels like it’s yours.) And as if that wasn’t bad enough, what’s the big deal about rolling a car six times, killing my girlfriend, and running away into the night? It was an accident, and I was only trying to avoid a scandal in the news that could have affected the big sale I was trying to close so I could replace the 418 million. She was dead, so get over it, you damn persistent cops! It wasn’t my fault. And jeez, why are you making such a big deal out of the fact that I didn’t let my lawyer and Chief Investment Officer daughter know about my shenanigans, thereby making her an unwitting but eminently prosecutable partner in my financial felonies? And now my wife finds out about some of this, and she’s leaving me? What an unfair world!
This is just skimming the surface of the slime-covered soul of the man Richard Gere plays in this movie. The real ugliness concerns an innocent young black man who owes the tycoon big-time, helps him cover up his presence at the accident, and then finds himself in deep shit. He’s going to stand up, not be a snitch, and only gets off through a stroke of luck and a dirty cop. But I just know, deep in my heart, that if that luck hadn’t have happened, Gere would have thrown him under the bus, let him go to prison for 15 years … and have had a perfectly rational explanation why he had to do it for the greater good. He wasn’t doing any of this for himself.
It’s impossible for me to feel any sympathy for a character like this. He has his opulent building in Manhattan, his four-story condo, his lovely family, more money than he could spend in ten lifetimes, and it’s not enough. He has to keep making more. The arbitrageurs, the hedge funders, the money churners, bankers, brokers, inventors of derivatives, they all exist as leeches on the backs of the rest of us. They produce nothing but air, drain trillions of dollars from the rest of us, and feel like Masters of the Universe. If there was a button right here whereby I could blow them all up, and their yachts and their mansions and their lovely children and all, I wouldn’t hesitate to push it. (Okay, not the children, though I’m afraid that if I let them live, they would just breed more lawyers and brokers.)
And I was pretty sure he would get off scot-free at the end. I won’t tell you whether or not he does, but I guarantee you won’t be surprised at the ending.