Film Review: The Crash

Detailed knowledge of the subject and a fine ensemble cast of characters makes for a compelling (albeit wholly fictional) financial thriller.
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Ever since films like Margin Call and The Big Short made it more apparent that there’s a significant cross-section of movie watchers also interested in learning about the financial market, other filmmakers have attempted to capitalize on this trend.

Written and directed by Aram Rappaport (Syrup), The Crash is set after an attempt to hack the New York Stock Exchange by an unknown entity that forces the government to call upon corporate money whiz Guy Clifton (Frank Grillo) to help them prevent the hackers from causing a full market crash. Clifton has already been indicted for creating and using the same software the hackers used for profit, so who better?

While The Crash is entirely fictional, there are many elements taken from the real world that make it as timely and topical as a film like last year’s Eye in the Sky.  Rappaport has written a decent screenplay that gets very technical with the finances and technology, clearly showing he did his research before exploring this territory.

Much of the film takes place at Clifton’s home, where his programmer Ben (Ed Westwick) and brilliant wheelchair-bound financial advisor George (John Leguizamo) are working on the program to stop the hackers. Due to that intentional filmmaking decision, the movie comes off more like a small character drama, which may also be why it works as well as it does.

Grillo bring so much humanity to Clifton, making him more than just the typical “evil corporate CEO” we’ve seen in far too many movies, and he’s well paired with Minnie Driver as his wife. These are solid dramatic actors who bring gravity to Rappaport’s script and make up for the weaker actors, who tend to grandstand a bit. That’s not the case with Leguizamo, who brings the perfect amount of much-needed levity to the film as a disabled character with a strong sense of humor.

Once they start figuring out who is responsible for trying to orchestrate the crash, things start veering a little too far into an “evil bankers” plot we had been expecting earlier, while a reference to “Madame President”—whom we see briefly reading to school kids a la George W.—makes it even more obvious this was meant solely as fiction. The puzzling subplot involving Guy’s cancer-stricken daughter (AnnaSophia Robb) and her romance with Ben never really goes anywhere and unfortunately doesn’t add much to the plot.

At first, choices made by Rappaport’s composer Guy Moon makes the movie feel like the pilot for a new “Law & Order” series, but it soon settles into pulsing electronic music that’s far more effective.

The Crash is overly preachy at times, but it’s obvious Rappaport means well in creating an entertaining film that tries to point out the flaws in the American financial system with a short running time that insures it never wears out its welcome.

Click here for cast and crew information.