Review: 'The Crash' Starring Frank Grillo And Minnie Driver

The "greed is good" era may be making a comeback based on recent shifting of political winds, but for now movies about the corrupt financial system are big business. The Big Short, Margin Call, and even The Wolf of Wall Street showed us that movies about rich people who move money around can be entertaining, funny, and even seat-of-your-pants thrilling. The Crash is as knowledgeable as any of those films and boasts a talented ensemble cast we don't mind delivering scores of information that we'll never understand. But writer/director Aram Rappaport doesn't seem sure if it wants it to be an economic techno-thriller or a domestic family drama. A decision either way could have helped balance the books.

Frank Grillo, usually seen humanizing butt-kickers or stone cold killers (He starred in The Purge movies and Captain America: The Winter Soldier), plays a white collar tough-guy this time. As Guy Clifton, a big wig stock trader under federal indictment, he's been called upon to assemble a team and stop an impending cyber attack on the New York Stock Exchange. Guy's skills for playing the market are the government's only defense to stop the unknown hackers, who intend to shatter the already-fragile U.S. economy.

Ok, cool. A ragtag bunch of hackers against another team of shadowy cyber-thieves? Sounds cool, right? Well, it might have been but we never actually see that story play out. Instead, much of the movie takes place in Guy's home where he and his wife Shannon (Minnie Driver) deal with family problems. His cancer-stricken daughter (AnnaSophia Robb) has begun sleeping with Ben (Ed Westwick), a protégée who screwed Guy over in the past. John Leguizamo and Dianna Agron arrive as two members of Guy's team, but they don't seem to have any specific function. All of these characters are kept under one roof, and it  begins to feel more like an ensemble drama than a movie about preventing a financial crash. And for the life of me I can't figure out why Maggie Q is even there since all she seems to do is push the wheelchair-bound Leguizamo around. Then again, none of the subplots really play out satisfactorily.

The cast performs their meager roles ably, though. Grillo does a good job of portraying Guy's inherent conflicts. His natural instincts aren't to trust the government, but even a guy like him wants a shot at redemption, to look like a hero in his daughter's eyes. The scenes he shares with Driver, who is always combustible even when she turns down the heat, suggest this might have been a better movie if the whole hacking component had been left out entirely. Or at the very least if Rappaport could have found a way to be more even.

Ultimately, The Crash reveals its villains in the most campy way possible. Imagine evil billionaires plotting in secret at empty carnivals, twirling their mustaches. Okay, maybe not that last bit, but it was close. It doesn't feel right to go so far into black/white territory, and soon we find out the movie's real agenda. Let's just say that Ron Paul supporters will probably embrace The Crash and the theories it comes up with. One theory Rappaport puts out there that didn't turn out so hot is the assumption of a Hillary Clinton presidency. To quote Rick Perry,  "Oops." The constant references to "Madame President", played by a veiled actress clearly made to look and sound like her are pretty awkward given the recent election. But I guess we can't blame Rappaport for thinking the other option unimaginable.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5