By John Delia
At first look you may think that Margin Call is an extension of the film Wall Street, but as the film progresses I found a very good movie that really shows the effect of greed, contempt, lack of compassion, and survival of the fittest, no matter who gets squashed in the process. It’s like our economical climate these days; you never know when or where the next shoe will drop.
Using the background of the stock market crash of 2008, writer director J.C. Chandor takes his film into the bowels of a stockbrokerage house that’s on the verge of folding due to the collapsing of the formula used to equate their business’s viability. It’s a taut drama that reveals the workings of the investment company in relationship to its clients, workforce and the people at the top. Chandor doesn’t pull any punches as he gets his characters involved in the plot to prevent the dissolution of the company no matter how many jobs, small businesses, and lives are at stake.
From the onset of the first act there is this feeling of impending doom that slowly settles over the firm. Chandor uses the strength of his cast to take on the company, deal with the problem, and accept the solution. Jeremy Irons brings his tough persona to John Tuld, the owner of the investment house that’s about to change the economy of a good-sized portion of the world. Stubborn and passionate about keeping his company going in spite of what it will be doing, Tuld works himself into a one-way no-return decision.
However, it’s Spacey’s strong sense of right that makes Sam Rogers the adversary to the no-win decision that makes this film work. Chandor focuses on Rogers, who goes head to head with the impossible in this clash between upper management and his devotion to the employees under him. It’s his drive in an attempt for a resolve, no matter if it means the demise his own job, that controls all the drama.
Margin Call is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The 1080p image is arrived at with an AVC MPEG-4 codec at an average 20 mbps. The image detail is quite natural, if a little soft at times. Black levels aren’t particularly strong, but you won’t find anything like artifact to take away from the high-definition image presentation. It’s a very average look that allows you to blend into the boardroom style quite effortlessly.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is another average presentation. These comments should not be taken as a negative. This is not the kind of film where you want intrusive or aggressive audio to interfere. It’s a dialog-driven piece that holds the mood just perfectly without frills.
There is an Audio Commentary with writer/director Chandor and producer Neal Dodson. It’s informative, but it sounds almost like they’re providing one of those descriptive tracks for the blind.
All of the features are in HD:
Deleted Scenes: There are two with a play-all option.
Revolving Door – Making Of Margin Call: (5:58) It’s too short to be anything but a fluff piece.
Missed Calls – Moments With The Cast And Crew: (1:06) Almost a gag reel, it’s a somewhat humorous look at the production.
The support cast helps the film along, especially Paul Bettany as Will Emerson, the upcoming analyst that brings the problem to his boss and Stanley Tucci as the scapegoat for the error, both delivering excellent characters that up the suspense level. Even though not in the film very much, Demi Moore makes an appearance as Sara Robertson, a corporate damage control specialist. Her Robertson reminded me of the malicious personality as Merideth Wilson in Disclosure.
Portions of this review were written by Gino Sassani