Money Never Sleeps
NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by L.
Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) is released from prison in 2002 after eight years in prison. He leaves the prison hoping to find a car waiting for him but there is no one. He’s alone.
Six years Later, Jacob “Jake” Moore (Shia Lebouf) is woken in his apartment by his girlfriend, Winnie (Carey Mulligan). Jake turns on the television and there is an interview with Gekko on the TV. Gekko has become an author and a lecturer promoting his new book “Is Greed Good?” Winnie gets upset and throws the remote at the TV after Jake doesn’t turn it off. Winnie is Gekko’s estranged daughter and wants nothing to do with him. Jake drives Winnie to the airport on his motorbike and she goes off to gather investors for his online political magazine.
Jake goes to work at Keller Zabel, a banking institution. He tries to raise more money for a fusion research project which will be a viable source of alternative energy down the line but the rest of the board doesn’t agree with him. Jake is one of the firm’s top brokers and the protégé of its owner, Louis Zabel (Frank Langella). Zabel has become disillusioned with the industry and doesn’t understand how he can be told a loss is a profit. He gives Jake a 1.5 million dollar bonus and tells him to spend it and keep the economy going. Zabel also encourages Jake to marry Winnie and have a kid since he knows that growing old isn’t for the weak and that Jake needs her.
Jake goes out to celebrate with his best friend and buys Winnie a ring. He mentions that Winnie doesn’t really support marriage given the outcome of her parents but Jake knows that she loves him and he loves her. His friend asks about rumors that Keller Zabel is in danger, but Jake brushes it off.
The next day the company’s stock starts crashing. Zabel doesn’t come in to work so Jake goes and finds him walking his wife’s dog in the park. Jake asks him if Keller Zabel is going to go under, but Zabel just tells him that he’s asking the wrong question: Who isn’t going under?
Zabel meets with the chairmen of the US treasury at the Federal Reserve. He tries to arrange a bailout but he is blocked by Bretton James (Josh Brolin), a former businessman that Zabel had crossed 8 years prior when his company was going under. James insults Zabel by offering to buy Keller Zabel stock at 3 dollars a share (against its 75 dollar trading value from a week prior).
The next morning Zabel wakes up and kisses his wife after breakfast. He goes to a newsstand and picks up a bag of Lays and a newspaper. As the train pulls in, Zabel pushes towards the front of the line and jumps on the tracks.
Jake hears the news on the television as Winnie returns from her trip. She hugs him and consoles him before he proposes to her. She agrees to marry him.
Jake attends a lecture given by Gordon Gekko and hears what Gekko has to say about the upcoming financial crisis. After the lecture ends, Jake approaches Gekko and tells him that he’s about to marry Winnie. They ride the train together and Gekko explains that his daughter won’t speak to him because of her brother Rudy’s suicide. Jake sees that Gekko has a photo of Winnie as a toddler and asks if he can have it. Gekko tells him that he will trade Jake for a more recent photograph of Winnie. Gekko gives him the photo and his card so that Jake will find him later on. He also tells Jake that Keller Zabel was in trouble the minute someone started rumors about them and that Jake should look for whoever profited from Keller Zabel’s collapse.
Jake does some digging and realizes that Bretton James profited from the Keller Zabel collapse. In order to get his attention, Jake spreads rumors about the nationalization of an African oil rig that Bretton’s company owns. The company loses 120 million dollars and Bretton asks for a meeting with Jake. At the meeting, he tells Jake that he is impressed and offers Jake a job, making it clear that if Jake doesn’t accept he will have a lot of trouble being hired anywhere else. Determined to take Bretton out and avenge Zabel, Jake accepts.
Jake visits Gekko again and gives him the photo of Winnie that he promised. Gekko tells Jake that his research pointed out that the Lotus Fund, a private offshore hedge fund was betting against Keller Zabel. Jake explains that he was offered a job by Bretton James and Gekko tells Jake that he suspects it was James’ testimony which got him sent away for 8 years (more time than a murderer). Jake is confused, having assumed that it was Bud Fox who put Gekko away. Gekko explains that Bud Fox got him on insider trading but that was nothing compared to some of Gekko’s other activities. He and Bretton had a falling out and, though he doesn’t know for sure, he suspects that Bretton was behind it. Gekko asks for another trade: He wants to have a face to face with his daughter.
Winnie and Jake go out to Long Island to meet with Jake’s mother. She asks for 200,000K to float her properties. Jake gives it to her but Winnie tells Jake in private that she’s only going to waste her chance again. She asks him to take her very expensive ring back because she isn’t comfortable wearing something so expensive. Jake pretends that he called Gekko to have dinner and ask his approval and he and Winnie go to have dinner with Gekko. During their reintroductions, Gekko sees an important business man and introduces himself, only to be brushed off as a nobody. Winnie realizes that Gekko hasn’t changed and leaves upset. Jake pursues her and she tells him that if he goes back, Gekko will destroy them.
At work, Jake is put on the sideline so that Bretton’s point woman can take over a pitch to the Chinese. When they express concerns over what their investment is for, Jake swoops in and presents them with the fusion research he has been supporting. Bretton is impressed by Jake’s initiative and is glad that the firm has made more money. However, the firm is in trouble but Bretton doesn’t want anyone to know. The economy is slowly starting to crumble. Bretton hosts a fundraiser and invites Jake and Winnie. Gekko asks Jake to front 10K so that Gekko can also attend.
Gekko approaches Winnie and Jake at Bretton’s table but Winnie leaves when Gekko arrives. Gekko and Bretton exchange a tense conversation where Gekko implies that he has proof Bretton put him away. Bretton gets uncomfortable but points out that Gekko is no one. Gekko leaves him to find Winnie. Bretton tells Jake that the Chinese are going to invest 150 million in the fusion research Jake has been supporting. Jake calls the head researcher and tells him that the money is on its way.
Wandering around the party, Gekko ends up bumping into Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen). Fox did his time in prison and went on to build Blue Star into one of the premier airlines in the country, retiring a multimillionaire. He wishes Gekko well and tells him to stay out of trouble. Outside of the building, Gekko finds Winnie and tells her that he’s sorry for what happened at that she’s all he has. She hugs him and Jake watches them have their moment.
Jake and Winnie go on a date and Winnie tells him that she’s pregnant. Jake is floored but excitedly happy and kisses her.
The economy is in the tank. Numerous companies are failing. Bretton calls Jake into his office and Jake takes a helicopter to meet Bretton at his estate. The two participate in a motorcycle race against each other and Jake beats Bretton. Bretton tells Jake that the money the Chinese invested is going into fossil fuels instead of fusion research. Jake gets pissed, knowing that Bretton is trying to sink the fusion research because Jake supports it. Jake quits and tells Bretton to go fuck himself.
Jake tells Gekko about what happened and Gekko reveals that there is a solution: Winnie has an account in Switzerland with 100 million dollars in it which Gekko set up in the 80s when she was born. He told her that once he was out of jail, he would need that money to reassert himself but Winnie reneged when Rudy died. While she has always considered giving it to charity, she hasn’t. Jake could use that money to fund the research and save the company. But since Winnie never declared it, she could go to jail for tax evasion. Gekko tells Jake that he can embezzle it with his old contacts. Jake believes him and goes to talk to Winnie.
At Winnie’s office, Jake asks why she never mentioned the money. Winnie is shocked that he knows but Jake gets enthusiastic about the fusion research and tells her that this is her chance to make a difference. She agrees and the two fly to Switzerland. She signs the money over to Gordon and Gekko goes off to do his thing.
A few hours after returning to New York, Jake gets a call saying that the money never arrived. He gets frantic but his mother interrupts him before he goes to deal with Gekko. She asks for 100,000 dollars but Jake gives her 30K and tells her that he cannot afford to waste any more money on her ridiculous real estate deals. He goes to Gekko’s apartment and finds it empty: he’s gone.
Jake tells Winnie what happened and that he’s been talking to Gekko for a while. She breaks off their engagement and tells Jake to leave: she no longer trusts him or feels safe around him. He leaves bitterly and tracks Gekko to England, where Gekko is running a company again with the 100 million he stole from Winnie and Jake. Jake propositions him for one last trade: Winnie gets her 100 million back and Gekko gets a grandson. Jake shows him the ultrasound of his son but Gekko, despite being moved, cannot let go of being someone of importance. He tells him that it’s not about money, it’s about the game. Jake leaves.
Over the next few weeks, Jake begins piecing together everything from Keller Zabel’s collapse to the economic bailouts being issued for Bretton’s company. Jake points out that Bretton owns Locust Fund and puts the pieces together in one large information packet. He gives it to Winnie telling her that it will put her website on the map for good as a legitimate source of information and that he misses her like crazy. He leaves.
Winnie runs the story and Bretton James is exposed. The board of directors kicks him out of the company and Bretton is forced to testify to his crimes in front of the Congressional Committee, who note that they previously had Bretton’s cooperation in the Gekko investigation. Bretton’s career is over and he’s left to the sharks. Bretton’s board of directors goes to Gekko and Gekko takes over Bretton’s position. He looks at his account assets: Gekko is a billionaire again.
Jake sees Winnie walking to her apartment and helps her carry her things. Their son has been kicking like mad and keeping her up at night. Jake feels his son’s kicks and Winnie thanks him for the help but they do not reconcile. Gordon appears and tells them that he deposited the money in to the fusion researcher’s accounts. He tells them that they make a good couple and that he’d like to be there for them as their father and a grandfather. He walks away saying “What, can’t you believe in a comeback?”
Jake kisses Winnie and they reconcile before the birth and one year later they celebrate their son’s first birthday.