Rogue Trader (1999)   3/53/53/53/53/5


Ewan McGregor as Nick Leeson in Rogue Trader

Banking Disaster

Nick Leeson (Ewan McGregor - Brassed Off), an ambitious young man, is given the opportunity by his employers, Barings Bank, to go abroad to sort out a problem that everyone has rejected. He grasps the challenge with both hands as he doesn't just want to be just another bank clerk. Having done a successful job, Barings Bank offer him the chance to go to Singapore to set up their new trading operation. Everything seems to be going well as his first year in charge was a success, even though he had undertaken illegal trading practices to make up some huge losses. Unfortunately he starts making even bigger losses and has to start trading illegally again to try and get himself out of the mess.

Based upon the true story about Nick Leeson and his fraudulent banking activities "Rogue Trader" is indeed a very interesting movie. It gives us a dramatized insight into how Leeson managed to defraud Barings Bank as well as his motives, without having to over complicate the matter with masses of technical banking details. I'm sure, as with many movies based on true stories, there has been a certain amount of poetic license used, but in doing so they have created a very informative movie which is also very compelling viewing.

Ewan McGregor and Anna Friel in Rogue Trader

As "Rogue Trader" progresses you start to wonder how bad things will get before Leeson's fraudulent banking activities get discovered, especially as he escapes being audited on a couple of occasions. If "Rogue Trader" had not been based on the story of Nick Leeson, it would have done easily as well as a thriller, as at times you actually forget that this is a true story.

In the lead role of Nick Leeson is Ewan McGregor and having never seen the real Nick Leeson I can't comment if he looks like him or has his mannerisms, but what I can say is he gives a virtuoso performance as a man who buckles under the stress of the job and his personal circumstances. In a supporting role as Nick's wife Lisa is Anna Friel, although she plays the part of the wife very convincingly, her character is in the movie purely to give you depth and an understanding of the main role of Nick. There are numerous supporting performances in "Rogue Trader", all of which give adequate performances but the movie really focuses on Nick Leeson and how he got into such a financial mess.

"Rogue Trader" is directed by James Dearden and was based on Nick Leeson's autobiography as well as an account by a reporter. I feel that Dearden has done a good job of making an enjoyable movie which could have become very boring if it had gone down the route of explaining all the technical aspects of the fraud. In reality I am sure there were many more factors which contributed to Leeson's demise which have been left out of the movie, but in doing so, Dearden has managed to keep the pace of it moving as well as putting in a good sense of suspense.

What this all boils down to is that for a movie which is based on a true story, "Rogue Trader" is very enjoyable and is a decent thriller in its own right. With a story based in the world of finance, this could have been too factual and boring; instead it is riveting and keeps you hooked through out its duration. McGregor's performance as Leeson is brilliant as he displays the desperation of a man out of his depth and basically carries "Rogue Trader" on his shoulders. For anyone who remembers the Barings Bank disaster of 1995 "Rogue Trader" gives a good insight into how it came about.


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