Saturday 8 April 2023

Movie Review: Rogue Trader (1999)

Genre: Biographical Drama
Director: James Dearden
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Anna Friel
Running Time: 101 minutes

Synopsis: Despite a humble working class background, Nick Leeson (Ewan McGregor) has ambitions to become a financial trader at the distinguished London-based Barings Bank. After making his name in Jakarta and marrying Lisa (Anna Friel), he lands a position running the bank's futures trading desk in Singapore. Barely supervised, Nick takes big risks and covers his losses with illegal transactions, creating the illusion of huge profits. He is deemed a superstar as his financial deceptions grow to gargantuan levels.

What Works Well: Director and writer James Dearden, adapting the book co-authored by Leeson, captures a culture quick to abandon checks-and-balances in the rush to celebrate profits and big bonuses. The manic energy of the trading floor sustains the up-and-down dramas of financial transactions.

What Does Not Work As Well: More a chronicling of facts than an attempt to understand people, the film stalls in simplistic characterizations and is unable to progress beyond initial definitions. Nick is a particularly unlikeable liar and rule-bender who never seems to know when to stop digging a deeper hole. Opportunities to more meaningfully explore addictive personalities entrapped by the lure of wealth are well beyond the grasp of the elemental script.

Conclusion: The bank's losses were staggering; the movie not so much.

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