The Big Short (2015) Review

You know how this ends. You just don’t really now why it starts. Or why you care about these few guys who knew it was going to happen all along.


I feel I need to justify the three thumbs. It’s the first three thumber of Thumb & Thumber, so it better be good right?

This is a tight story, told in an exciting and interesting way. I think the subject matter is golden territory. The global financial collapse of 2008 affected everybody. Not just these bankers and the crying, huddled masses being ushered out of Bear Stearns, but all us Joe Schmucks too.

The film does a tremendous job of explaining who was behind it, how it came about and why nothing happened to stop it — even when there were those fabled few who could see it coming. And those few are our heroes here.

Except they’re not really.

These heroes are just other bankers and they’re driven by greed and self interest too, and this film never shies away from that. At times it’s brazen about it (“You’re a hypocrite” somebody tells Steve Carrell’s angriest man in Brooklyn) and at times it’s more subtle (Steve Carrell’s agonising at the thought of actually making $40bn off the back of the misery of the tax-payer).

Everyone is looking to make a buck . From Bale’s Rainman to Gosling’s Jordan Belfort — and we’re fine with that. The thing here is that in all that buck making, the banks didn’t really see what was going to happen, neither did the Fed, neither did the SEC.

Nobody did, except a few “Rogues and weirdos” as they like to be presented. It tells an important tale about how we blindly follow and believe the powers that be and the expertise of those in positions of authority. But like one of the characters explains; most of the stuff on wall street is designed to sound complicated so it looks as if we normal folk couldn’t understand it.

I loved the point this film made. I loved the subject. I love the hypocrisy of the people in it and how it’s never hidden. I loved the pace, the style, the fourth wall breaking and the celebrity endorsement sidebars.

Gosling, Bale, Carrell and Pitt looked like they’d had the parts (real people no less) written for them. It makes those celebrity sidebars even more well placed. It feels like the BBC news drafted in some celebrities to explain the financial crisis to ordinary folk in play and narrator form. Margin Call may have been more tense and pivoted on performances, but this telling is faster and more exciting — more accesible. And brilliant for it.