Set on the eve of the 2008 global financial crisis, Margin Call tells the story of an unnamed Wall St investment firm on the brink of collapse. Senior risk analyst Eric Dale (Stanley Tucci) is laid off in a round of ruthless staff cuts, but before being cruelly marched out of the building, he passes a file he was working on to young hotshot trader Peter Sullivan (Zachary Quinto). Peter checks the data and makes the discovery that became all too obvious in hindsight – irresponsible speculation in the mortgage markets has led the company, and the market, to the point of imminent fiscal disaster.
Margin Call does a good job of exploring the complete lack of morality in the higher echelons of corporations such as these. Jeremy Irons is fantastic as the sly CEO John Tuld, whose success has come at the expense of others’ livelihoods. But ultimately, what should have been a fascinating fly-on-the-wall look at how the GFC went down comes off as plodding and lacking in intensity, and even the star power of Kevin Spacey and Demi Moore can’t save the film from being much more than a limp boardroom drama. (KSo) **