Zachary Quinto and Penn Badgley in Margin Call (2011)

War on Wall Street

They knew there was going to be job losses and for young members of the office the sight of the redundancy team entering their floor was an unsettling experience. It was an even more unsettling experience for Eric (Stanley Tucci) who after years of loyal service working is risk assessment finds himself out of the door, escorted out of the building due to the nature of his job. But before he does he hands a memory stick to young colleague Peter (Zachary Quinto) containing the files he had been secretly working on. When Peter takes a look at the files it shows him that the companies figures do not add up and project massive losses for the company. It sends shockwaves through the company as broker Will (Paul Bettany) calls his superior Sam (Kevin Spacey) and trouble shooter Jared Cohen (Simon Baker) calls in director John (Jeremy Irons), risk management head Sarah (Demi Moore) and the senior partners to deal with what is going down.

I use to work for a pensions company but only in the IT department, I was never involved in any of the number crunching side of things. The thing is that I remember when there were issues back then as heads of departments would be summoned to clandestine meetings on the top floor of the building, that level where you never went because that was where the chairman's office was. As I watched "Margin Call" it reminded me of this including the opening scenes of Eric being made redundant, something which happened to me and was handed that file box to put only my personal belongings in before leaving the building immediately. So "Margin Call" certainly captures the office feel of a financial institution quite nicely.

Simon Baker in Margin Call (2011)

What "Margin Call" also has is a fantastic cast who manage to deliver the drama and that sense of conspiracy which flows from the situation as we have senior staff members deciding the best way to tackle the situation. Each of these actors play their parts well from Quinto delivering the youthful inexperience but inquisitiveness of a young office worker whilst Paul Bettany has the more cynical aspect of someone who has seen others promoted over him. Then there is Kevin Spacey who has that deviousness about his character that aspect of a man whose natural tendency is to look for the way to cover up what is going on to keep the good times rolling. It is because the acting is of a consistently high level that when at one point it is unearthed that Quinto's character was a rocket scientist but the money was better working in the financial industry you pretty much accept it.

But like some other movies based in the world of finance "Margin Call" has an issue and whilst it tries not to be full of business jargon it can't avoid it which means unless you have some grasp of what the characters are on about you get a little lost. Oh you can get the gist that basically the way they have done business now puts them in big trouble and they need to find a way out but I am sure that those who can appreciate the detail of the dialogue will see it as a much better movie.

What this all boils down to is that "Margin Call" for me is a good movie with a great look and fantastic performances but doesn't fully wow because you need some grasp of the detail and the jargon which they speak to fully appreciate what is going on.