'Margin Call' trailer hints at a taut Wall Street thriller

The movie about dealings on Wall Street will have to make tedious tasks interesting to watch, but it looks like a thriller with mainstream appeal.

JOJO WHILDEN/HONS/Roadside Attractions/AP
'Margin Call' stars Zachary Quinto (l) and Penn Badgley face the financial crisis on Wall Street.

Films like Inside Job reaped in loads of critical accolades, but failed to light it up at the box office. That’s pretty understandable, since spending two hours watching an in-depth examination of the 2008 global economic crisis probably isn’t something most people want to do.

Margin Call aims to have its cake and eat it too, in that regard, by offering a thoughtful examination of the lead-in to Wall Street’s most recent financial collapse – as filtered through the lens of a taut thriller with more mainstream appeal.

The setup for Margin Call is pretty straightforward: it chronicles the efforts of a powerful investment bank to avoid disaster when they get wind of the impending financial crisis, over a 24-hour period of time. Members of said institution are played by familiar (and respected) faces like Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto, Demi Moore, and Stanley Tucci, among others.

J.C. Chandor made his feature-length writing and directorial debut with Margin Call, which went over well at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for the Golden Bear award earlier this year, at the Berlin International Film Festival. So, armed with a star-studded cast, positive early buzz, and provocative subject matter, can Chandor deliver the goods?

Find out by watching the Margin Call trailer below:

Scenes of Wall Street types analyzing financial data patterns or discussing what tactics need be used to avoid bankrupting their company don’t exactly seem like ripe material for a tense thrill ride. That’s similar to the obstacle that The Social Network had to overcome, trying to make tedious tasks (like computer programming, in that case) seem fascinating and exciting in cinematic form. Like David Fincher did with Social Network, Chandor appears to have pulled this feat off quite well in Margin Call.

Despite its hot-button subject matter, Margin Call doesn’t look to go overboard with romanticizing the dirty dealings and maneuvering that went down, prior to the 2008 financial collapse. The footage in the trailer treads less on Oliver Stone territory (see: Wall Street 2) and seems more reminiscent of an “inspired by real events” story like Shattered Glass. Margin Call arguably has the edge over that solid film, though, since it not only boasts an excellent main and supporting cast, but the stakes are also much higher this time around. The consequences of characters’ actions and behind-closed-doors maneuvers are much weightier (and potentially more insidious) for it.

Margin Call hits theaters around the U.S. on October 21st, 2011. Will you be checking it out?

Sandy Schaefer blogs at Screen Rant.

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