Steve Coogan is Sir Rich “Greedy” McCreadie, a retail billionaire who’s bullied, tricked and asset stripped his way to the top in a way that makes Gordon Gekko look like Gordon the Gopher.
The film follows journalist Mark Corrigan (David Mitchell) who’s been paid to hagiogrophise McCreadie, interviewing people from his life and getting the inside story on plans for his 60th birthday on Mykonos. But all the money in the world can’t salvage the reputation of the business bastard who’s made more than a few enemies along the way.
While it has admirable intentions, and deserves praise for the time devoted to the people McCreadie steps on along the way – his factory workers and the Syrian refugees on his beach – it’s also unfocused, heavy-handed and nowhere near as funny as it needs to be. There are some potentially sharp skewers of the modern world (like his daughter’s scripted reality show) but they feel like they’ve had their assets stripped as they go nowhere.
The smattering of witty dialogue doesn’t do enough to make the film come alive as it tries to blend comedy with a Big Short style exposé of business shenanigans. Like The Big Short it doesn’t work as a story independent of its choir-preaching message, but also fails to tell us anything most people won’t already know. Did you know Sir Philip Green is a shit?
Coogan is decent in the lead role but falls back on Partridge too often, and the supporting cast, a virtual who’s who of British comedy talent, are used to varying degrees of effectiveness. As a result the final deal is never as profitable as it looks on paper, and it’s hard to agree with Gordon Gekko’s famous assertion that Greed is good.