Wall Street 2 - Greed Is So 2008

Michael Douglas in Wall Street

This week sees the release of the long-awaited sequel to Oliver Stone's 1987 classic, Wall Street. Do I really need to get my suspenders out?

Ever since the original Wall Street came out in 1987, there have been rumours about a sequel. They never materialised until last year when it was announced that a movie of the (slightly tacky) title Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps was being filmed.

My initial reaction was that the world had not quite waited for it, but there was no chance it could be as bad as Basic Instinct 2. The thought also crossed my mind that the sudden existence of a sequel could be related to Michael Douglas' career not being all that lately. Reprising his most iconic role would certainly be a safer bet than the other things he had produced in the past decade or so. I shall not reveal what my initial reaction to Shia LaBeouf in WS II was, but let's just say that it was more than offset by the presence of Carey Mulligan, who I like very much indeed.

On a recent business flight, the imminence of the sequel led me to browse the Classics section to revisit the original. Slightly amused by the fact that a movie I watched when I graduated from high school was now considered 'classic', and with 20-odd years since the first viewing, I made a few mental notes.

First of all, as always, technology featured in movies older than a few years comes across distinctly comical. The average iPod nowadays probably has more computational power than an entire trading floor in 1987.

Secondly, Michael Douglas is very, very good as Gordon Gekko, and his character does perfectly represent the '80s and their capitalist excesses.

Thirdly, and most importantly, while it might have been Oliver Stone's intention to criticise capitalism, he created a figure in Gordon Gekko that lives on. It lives on to the extent that you will still find traders and stockbrokers with suspenders and slicked back hair (if they have any) who consider themselves Masters of the Universe.

If you ask anyone, it seems that the credit-crunch banking generation has grown up watching Wall Street. A fair few will be able to recite the "Greed is good" monologue when asked, and until two years ago, probably believed in it verbatim.

And there, so it seems, the cycle closes. Those who admired Gordon Gekko for so long that they grew up and worked their way up to live that particular dream find themselves in a post-credit crisis reality. Here, universal greed and ignorance of basic economic principles has led most Western economies to the verge of a breakdown that will take years - if not decades - from which to recover.

Maybe the release of the new movie, or watching the old one again, will remind us that it might be time to hang up the suspenders and be more Bud Fox than Gordon Gekko.

And that, for lack of a better word, is good.

Have something to tell us about this article?