Complete A-Z list

Big Short, The


Stars: Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, Marisa Tomei, John Magaro, Finn Wittrock, Rafe Spall, Hamish Linklater, Karen Gillan, Margot Robbie, Selena Gomez, Melissa Leo

Director: Adam McKay

Director McKay throws the kitchen sink at this account of America's big banking collapse of 2007/8 to make it more accessible to a general audience: strippers, gambling, eccentric characters, machine-gun dialogue, restless camerawork, guest celebrities explaining things in layman's terms, and even characters addressing the audience directly from the screen: this certainly is a busy movie.

But its flurry of figures in millions and billions amid the intricacies of investments and the housing market remains a tough sell.

In the early 2000s, American business was booming, but banks started filling their multi-mortgage bonds with riskier and riskier mortgages (sub-primes) putting the whole bond at risk of collapse (have I lost you yet?). But figures were manipulated to disguise the dangers.

One man, Dr Michael Burry (Bale on speed), a barefoot figures genius at an investment firm, foresees the impending financial disaster years in advance. So he takes his own steps to line the pockets of those willing to gamble on his theories.

Two 'garage' upstarts (Magaro, Wittrock) also catch the whiff of decay, as does investor Vennett (Gosling), whose chance encounter with a bullish team at Morgan Stanley, led by Mark Baum (Carell) leads them to make investments everyone else regards as ludicrous.

All this is hard to grasp, even if we catch the general drift. And
Bale and Carell admittedly give it 100 per cent and maybe more. But the over-bright performances probably reflect the hyper, on-the-edge world in which these characters live. It's exhausting just trying to keep up with them.

David Quinlan

USA 2015. UK Distributor: Paramount. Colour by deluxe.
129 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 3.

Review date: 19 Jan 2016