The Big Short SPOILER-FREE Review
I haven't really been interested in The Big Short until recently. Sure, it has a stellar cast and I was very interested to see Anchorman and Step Brothers director Adam McKay take a different approach with film, however the project never caught my interest. Even when everyone was raving about it I was still unconvinced. It wasn't until I saw an interview with Steve Carell, and I saw how passionate he was about this project, that I finally became interested. So I went and bought a ticket to go see The Big Short, and I'm glad I did, because it is a marvelous film.
The film follows several people who all separately saw the signs and predicted the economic crash of 2008, and began betting against the housing market in order to make a profit. But as they uncover more and more about the banks greed and corporate misdoings, the more they realize just how rotten and corrupt the system is.
When you're watching this movie, you can clearly tell that McKay was the right choice to direct this film. He brings a very unique style to the film which helps alleviate the heaviness of the subject. We're talking about a catastrophic crash that left so many people unemployed and homeless, yet McKay doesn't allow that to overtake the film. He respects the impact of the reality of the subject matter, and uses his tools as a filmmaker to navigate this movie. There are also a lot of terms and big words, but McKay brilliantly breaks the fourth wall in order to explain to audience these terms and phrases. There are some great celebrity cameos to explain things, and these scenes are great.
The performances in this film are awesome as well. Christian Bale plays Michael Burry, a brilliant man with Asperger's who is the first to see the signs of the crash. Bale is very reserved in this role, as a bare-footed, heavy metal drumming genius. He tries to tell people that everything is going to sh*t, and no one believes him. Bale plays this mentally handicapped role respectively, and it never once feels like he is overdoing it. That is not only due to Bale's talent as an actor, but McKay's skill as a director. And now Bale is up for an Academy Award for it. But Bale isn't even give the best performance in this film. Steve Carell does. He shines as a big mouthed, busy-minded jerk who really only cares for himself. But as the film progresses, we learn more about Carell's character and why he is the way he is. We also learn more about the corruption of the banking industry through him, and he is honestly disgusted. He is the person we really experience this film through, and he leads this movie perfectly.
Like I mentioned before, the humor worked excellently in this film. McKay walks the line perfectly, making sure there is enough humor to keep the movie entertaining while not making it a full-out comedy. Even though the comedy is executed very well, that's what we expected from a comedic director like McKay. What was more exciting to watch were the dramatic moments, which was outside of McKay's comfort zone. He shines during these moments, bringing out incredible performances from all his actors. Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt have great supporting roles, and Gosling especially does a great job at narrating the film and being almost the tour guide through the film.
I do have some complaints with the film, however. While the movie did a great job explaining the terminology, the sheer amount of numbers and terms become overbearing at times. The movie should have taken a step back from all of that and focused a little bit more on the story. Basically, the story is just these guys going to different places and talking to different people all amounting to the crash. There could have been more developments in the story that would have enhanced the film more. But the film was still very engaging; it just would have been better if it had taken a step away from the numbers and focused a few more scenes on developing the characters and story.
Overall, The Big Short is an awesome movie, and shows director Adam McKay in a new light. He shines in bringing us a visceral and unique style of film that helps navigate through the depressive elements of this film, while also refraining from demeaning the importance of this subject matter. Christian Bale gives a great performance, but Steve Carell outshines him. There is enough humor to keep the film engaging, but isn't a full-out comedy. This is a show of McKay's skill as a director. The movie could have used a little less numbers and spent some more time developing the story and characters, but this does not hinder the film. The Big Short is a great movie that skillfully tells a story in a fun and unique way, and shows us just how talented McKay is as a director.
What do you think? Have you seen The Big Short? Did you like it? Leave your (spoiler-free) thoughts in the comments section below.
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