Money Monster is a cross between Dog Day Afternoon and Network.

George Clooney stars as Lee Gates, a TV personality who hosts an investment advice show called Money Monster. It’s more accurate to put it that way than to say he’s an investment adviser who hosts a TV show. We see from the opening scenes that he is much more concerned about image, branding, and the cult of his own personality than he is about the soundness of the investment advice he dispenses while introducing flashy graphics and, occasionally, singing and dancing in costume.

The movie opens with Gates and his producer Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts) getting ready to go3-stars live with a show. From their banter, we get a sense of their relationship and learn that Patty is about to jump ship for the competition, but Gates doesn’t know that yet.

Shortly after the show begins, a maniac with a gun stumbles onto the stage and takes Gates hostage, demanding that the cameras continue broadcasting live. Kyle (Jack O’Connell) is a blue collar working stiff who lost everything following Gates’s advice by investing heavily in one particular company that then tanked and lost $800 million.

But Kyle doesn’t just want his money back. He wants to put a stop to an entire system of rich people taking advantage of poor people. From that point, it’s up to Patty in the control room and Gates in front of the camera, to figure out a solution, while the world watches.

Jack is idealistic, though it’s not always clear what ideals he hopes to uphold. It’s never clear why he thought holding Gates hostage on air would further his cause. He’s a guy who puts himself in a threatening position to make demands, but he doesn’t really have any specific demands. Eventually, an explanation for where that $800 million went is uncovered, and to no one’s surprise, it’s just a case of rich guys getting richer. Dominic West, who was so great in The Wire, is wasted here. He plays an important character that is nevertheless such a one-dimensional evil rich guy he could have been played by Scrooge McDuck.

Director Jodi Foster really asks us to suspend our disbelief in substantial ways. First, would a national network actually continue the broadcast in a situation like this?  You have to think the moment the lunatic with the gun shows up, the feed gets cut. Second, as the plot progresses toward the climax, there is a slow, awkward foot chase as action moves from one location to another. It’s not plausible that a person posing such a threat would be free to walk through throngs of bystanders gawking from just a few feet away. In terms of the plot, you have to ask why this change in location was necessary. It does nothing to change the result.

Despite a few plot holes and head-scratching moments, the movie is in the hands of Jodie Foster, George Clooney and Julia Roberts, so you know it’s going to be an entertaining ride.

Title Money Monster
Director Jodie Foster
Starring George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O’Connell
Writer Jamie Linden, Alan DiFiore, Jim Kouf
Production TriStar Pictures