The 2008 housing crisis in the United States (leading to the crash of the global economy) and the respective Global Financial Crisis that followed was one of the most immensely tragic and instantly devastating events in modern history. The effects of the crisis are felt even still around the globe today however so few are truly aware of why exactly the market came down the way it did, especially the newer generations who may simply see it as a devastating market crash and nothing more.
This is exactly why films such as ‘The Big Short’ are so perfect and immensely important for both casual and economically inclined viewers alike. Released in 2015 the fun poking but equally serious take on the GFC makes use of an absolutely stacked cast including the likes of Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, Steve Carrell and Brad Pitt along with guest features including Margot Robbie, Selena Gomez and Anthony Bourdain. The film received multiple academy awards nominations taking the top spot for Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay) andgrossing over 133 Million dollars (USD) at the global box office with just a 50 Million dollar budget.
Whilst the film does a fantastic job to give a more in-depth and easier understood look into the circumstances surrounding the crisis on Wall Street it is multi-faceted in its ability to produce laughs and entertain throughout with equal ease. This without doubt comes about due to outstanding performances from the leads, in particular Christian Bale and Ryan Gosling whom whilst on completely different ends of the spectrum as characters, put in top-quality performances as central figures along with an equally strong display from Steve Carrell, Finn Wittrock and John Magaro.
The film dives into the story of how a group of various investors were able to actually predict the fall of the housing market on Wall Street and bet against the market before it crashed by shorting subprime mortgages, thereby making hundreds of millions of dollars at the very least when the market fell. All of which is based around real life individuals and their stories. These men were laughed at and ridiculed as they presented their cases to major banks whom were certain there was absolutely no chance of a market crash and would cash out on their loans to the investors.
Whilst not all the jokes landed and various scenes or ideas felt somewhat out of place or forced at times. The film travels along at a good pace and for the most part is relatively easy to follow, which is outstanding for a film explaining the internal nature of Wall Street and its investors during the largest crash in decades, an inherently quite difficult topic to grasp.
This film was absolutely mind-blowing for someone who never truly appreciated or understood both the endlessly ruthless nature of Wall Street nor the unbelievably corrupt system which used greed and ignorance to prosper off of the unsuspecting public whom really knew any better, a methodology that proved to be their downfall. It was the dozen whom profited from the market crash that found out the true nature of the big banks on Wall Street along with the highly corrupt nature of the ratings agencies which placed completely false ratings on horrible housing investments that were being marketed as ‘risk free options’.
The character arcs across this film are done particularly well in order to provide viewers with multiple perspectives from the very few men who took the time to take a proper look into the housing market and attempting to warn a Wall Street unprepared to listen leading up the the 2008 crash that made them some of the richest men in the world, but equally took millions around the globe from their jobs, families and lives.
‘The Big Short’ is a highly creative and fresh take which very few other films revolving around economics have attempted or pulled off with this level of quality. Director Adam McKay has made use of elements across multiple film genres with a highly capable cast and pulled the strings in a way that truly allows this true-story film to succeed in its mission to both entertain and inform. A remarkable look into the astounding events surrounding the 2008 Financial Crisis and a film where its shortfalls are heavily outweighed by its successes.