In 2008, 15 years after his imprisonment for insider trading, Wall Street shark Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) has rebuilt his life, even writing a book which predicts an impending financial crisis. His words of warning, however, are not heeded by traders at Keller Zabel Investments, least of all young Jake Moore (Shia LaBeouf), who remains naively bullish, until plummeting shares in KZI prompt his managing director and mentor Louis Zabel (Frank Langella) to commit suicide.
Recently engaged to Gekko's estranged daughter Winnie (Carey Mulligan), Jake has other things on his mind. He tracks Gekko down to share the happy news, but, eager to reconnect with his daughter, the veteran moneyman is soon up to his old tricks. In return for paving the way to a reunion, Gecko offers to assist Jake in avenging Zabel's death, by bringing down rival trader Bretton James (Josh Brolin), the man who helped cause KZI to crumble. Jake accepts, but with global financial chaos just around the corner, he looks set to become deeply embroiled in a dangerously uncertain world.
Though unlikely to hit a nerve in quite the same manner as 1987's Wall Street, Money Never Sleeps is nonetheless a timely sequel with plenty of ripe real-world events to draw on. Focusing on the recent economic downturn, the ever-provocative Stone follows Bush biopic W. and 9/11 drama World Trade Center with another of-the-moment tale.
With so many of his works sparking debate, this glossy sequel perhaps had the potential to provide a more substantial commentary on it's pertinent subject matter, although the prominence of Jake and Winnie's romance no doubt gives the film a broader appeal.
In a superb cast, Douglas reprises his iconic, Oscar-winning role, while Shia LaBeouf steps into the young protégé berth vacated by Charlie Sheen. The film also sees Stone reteam with W. star Brolin, who plays the villain, in light of a slightly less dastardly turn from Douglas. Look out for Susan Sarandon as Jake's mother, and a cameo from the aforementioned Sheen as his Wall Street character, Bud Fox.