If you were to ask anyone what the two scariest things that could happen to this country would be, my guess is that they would answer: terrorism and an economic collapse, both of which have become reality in the last 15 years. The latter is the subject of Michael Lewis’ non-fiction book “The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine” which is now a feature film directed by Adam McKay. The film tackles the build-up of the housing and credit bubble during the 2000s and failures of the financial district which lead the market to crash, which serves a gut punch to all the experts who allowed it to happen. In short, The Big Short is a film that should become required viewing for all business students and politicians.
In 2005, hedge fund manager Michael Burry (Christian Bale) stumbles upon a major discovery while researching loans bundled into highly rated mortgage bonds. Burry discovered that each and every one of these bonds was loaded with delinquent home loans that he believed would default over the next few years. Knowing that Wall Street bankers and government regulatory agencies has no intentions of acting to fix this certain doom, Burry invents a financial instrument called the credit default swap in order to “short” the booming housing market, much to the dismay of his hedge fund’s owners and investors.
After Burry makes his bet at Goldman Sachs, Wall Street banker Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling) is informed of Burry’s strategy, and decides to uses this knowledge to persuade hedge-fund manager Mark Baum (Steve Carell) that he too should invest millions in credit default swaps. Initially skeptical, Baum and his team (Jeremy Strong, Hamish Linklater and Rafe Spall) undertake their own investigation. Researching the housing market in Florida, they interview homeowners, realtors and mortgage brokers and discover that what Vennett has told them is true and that we are facing the worst economic crisis in decades.
While visiting NY to make their pitch their hedge fund to some of the bigger banks, money managers Jamie Shipley (Finn Wittrock) and Charlie Geller (John Magaro) also stumble upon the housing-market bubble and with the help of ex-banker Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt), use his connections to help them make their own bet against Wall Street. If all of these men are right, they will make billions, while millions of Americans lose their homes, their jobs and their retirement savings; if they’re wrong, they’ll lose everything. The gamble against the U.S. economy is on.
The Big Short is nothing short of spectacular. The script by McKay and Charles Randolph keeps a lot of the technical aspects of Lewis‘ book in tact, but helps to assist the average film goers understanding of the subject matter with vignettes that are as much hilarious as they are informative. Director Adam McKay assembles one of the best ensemble casts in decades and each actor brings their very best to this important film. Steve Carell has never been better and turns in a stand out performance. Christian Bale captures the eccentric nature of his character perfectly and Ryan Gosling has perfected the art of ego better than any actor in years.
This is a must see film and an instant contender for awards season.
4 out of 5
After Credit Scene?