The Eviction Game
When Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield) re-mortgaged the family home he did so to buy construction tools in order to build a better future for him, his son and also his mum. Unfortunately things didn't turn out that way and he is confronted with the humiliation of being evicted, turfed out from their own home on to the streets. But it is how he meets Rick Carver (Michael Shannon) who thanks to all those unfortunate enough to fail to make their repayments is making money hand over fist by buying up these properties. Despite wanting to kill Carver for what he did Dennis finds himself not only going to work for him, doing the grunt work and various shady activities, but becoming his right hand man on a deal which would set him and his family up. The question is whether putting people through the same pain he and his family suffered is truly worth it?
"Greed is Good" was the mantra of Gordon Gekko in "Wall Street" and I reckon if Gekko hadn't had that mantra Rick Carver would have. Not only is he a greedy son of a bitch always looking to make a deal to own more property but those who have been greedy when it comes to making improvements to their homes and then failed to repay their loans, well they are his fodder. In many ways "99 Homes" reminds me of "Wall Street" as we basically watch Dennis Nash finding himself selling his soul to Carver the devil, enjoying the money and the lifestyle which Carver sells him on but all the time questioning whether or not hurting people in the way he was hurt is worth it.
And "99 Homes" certainly takes us on that journey as Nash goes from nothing to be on the verge of greatness but all the time questioning if it is worth it especially when someone attacks him in front of his kid or he loses his mum and son's respect when they learn who he works for. But whilst we have this almost parable like storyline we also get a glimpse at the heartbreak which is eviction and repossession with everyone from the old with no one else to young parents with children finding themselves turfed out on the street. And yes we get a bit of politics thrown in there as Carver mentions if the government and banks didn't make it so easy to get into debt he wouldn't be doing what he is doing.
Now the casting of Michael Shannon as Rick Carver is perfect as Shannon is so good at playing that sort of loathsome character who would screw over his own family if it made him a buck and he wouldn't care. You also get a sense that Carver whilst a man who is greedy and conniving is also driven to have more and more because as we learn at one point he had nothing and he won't go back there again. As for Andrew Garfield as Nash, well he plays the nice guy with such ease and allows that niceness to dominate the character so that even when he is doing dirty work you can see he is morally conflicted. But for me it is just a good performance rather than a great one and it is the difference between this being memorable and a movie to watch again and just a one time good watch.
What this all boils down to is that "99 Homes" is a good movie and certainly worth a watch especially for those who enjoy movies with a hustle side to their narratives. But this is only a good movie although it comes very close to being a great movie.