Generally favorable reviews - based on 38 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 116 Ratings

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  • Summary: This tense Wall Street thriller follows the staff of a high-powered brokerage firm in the 24 hours before the stock market crash of 2008. Featuring an all-star cast, Margin Call was one of the most talked about films of the Sundance Film Festival and was also the Opening Night selection of New Directors/New Films. (Roadside Attractions) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 38
  2. Negative: 1 out of 38
  1. 100
    Chandor's shrewdest bit of business is figuring out how to make an A-list movie with a $3.5-million budget. Solution: buy low, sell high. Hire last decade's A-list – Spacey, Irons and Demi Moore – and give them their best parts in years.
  2. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Oct 20, 2011
    The accomplishment of this movie is that it allows you to sympathize with them, to acknowledge the reality of their predicament, without letting them off the hook or forgetting the damage they did.
  3. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Oct 19, 2011
    The movie with which it has the closest relationship may be "Glengarry Glen Ross." The same sense of desperation, the same need to make the sale, permeates Margin Call. Both films are to some degree about the dehumanizing impact of money and both are driven more by characters than plot points.
  4. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Oct 20, 2011
    Margin Call has a spectacular cast, and the 24-hour cycle of events gives the movie the compressed dramatic effect of a fine play.
  5. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Oct 21, 2011
    Spacey does his best work since "American Beauty'' as a tired middle-aged corporate warrior whose greatest compassion, in the end, is reserved for an ailing dog he has to put to sleep.
  6. Reviewed by: J.R. Jones
    Oct 20, 2011
    Chanodr has said that he wanted to portray the 2008 financial meltdown in all its complexity, assigning everyone a fair share of the blame. But the real strength of his debut feature is how persuasively it depicts the fishbowl world of high finance, whose executives seem incapable of seeing past their towering salaries and privileged lives.
  7. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Oct 19, 2011
    As a movie, it's so tightly framed you gasp from claustrophobia. As a film of cryptic boredom, I cannot believe the actors were able to say their lines without cue cards.

See all 38 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 31
  2. Negative: 8 out of 31
  1. Feb 4, 2013
    Margin Call is a Masterpiece. Firstly because it is by far the most realistic film ever made about business in general and finance especially, even topping now number two Oliver Stone's Wall Street. Secondly, the cast is impeccable. Irons, Baker, Moore, Spacey, Bettany, Tucci and Quinto are at their finest hour. And thirdly, from the very first minute until the end, Chandor creates this heavy, dark and oppressing atmosphere that puts you emotionally and nervously on the trading seat. Expand
  2. Oct 26, 2011
    Margin Call is this years depiction of the current economic crisis and how it might have come about. Much like 2009s Up In The Air and Januarys The Company Men its main aim is to say something about the morally corrupt world we live in and how we live with the fact we know its morally corrupt.
    Margin Call is about a stock market company that is downsizing and lets go a majority of its staff. However one of the people they fired (Stanley Tucci) has discovered a problem with the companys method of buying and selling. He tells one of the few people who wasn't let go and the whole firm goes into crisis management mode as they try to prepare for the next day of sales.
    However unlike The Company Men (which is a fine film in terms of acting) Margin Call has an interesting story, a well structured script and it knows where it wants to end up. All its characters, be they young up and comers like Zachary Quintos Peter or middle aged cynics like Paul Bettanys Will have a tale to tell and some great material to work with. For instance Quinto has some fantastic moments especially in his initial reaction to the crisis as he struggles to come to terms with what he has been given. The acting in Margin Call is nearly flawless with the film showing what Bettany can do when he isn't fighting angels or vampires. However the standout of the film has to be Kevin Spacey whose distaste in what he has to do over the course of the evening makes for some excellent scenes. That being said Demi Moore does make the film suffer in that she doesn't put much into her performance, she tries to go for a subdued performance because it suits the under appreciated nature of her character but in all honesty she just looks bored.
    The script manages to make all the major characters feel fleshed out and real despite how many there are while also telling a gripping and tense story as you really don't know who is going to make it out of the night with a job. It does seem like there is a new movie every six months about the financial crisis but regardless of the played out nature of the source material, Margin Call still manages to be fresh and entertaining. Overall Margin Call is a cautionary tale about human nature and what the rich and powerful will do to stay rich and powerful, that has beautifully acted characters, a nuanced script and a fast pace to keep you entertained. Well worth a watch.
  3. Oct 24, 2011
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. First off, this is not a tense Wall Street thriller. This is a tight drama about an economic titanic without the sappy love story. I am happy to have gotten to see this on VOD. I like a lot about the film. It has a great cast, the acting is professional, and the dialog and plot work like a finely tuned machine. That said, the only thing that is really off putting about this film is the average level cinematography. I don't know if it looked like this in theaters, but the aspect ratio and lighting didn't quite do justice to the epic scale of the story. This film is definitely worth seeing if you don't go into it expecting more of an thriller. There are a lot of speeches, and it comes off more as an exercise in dramatic theater rather than fully cinematic experience. However, it works. Expand
  4. Nov 15, 2011
    Very, very, very far from being a thriller of any kind. It's more like you're in the room with them. And for me, not knowing anything about anything to do with Wall Street, I got to have everything explained to me more than once, so even I felt like I knew what was going on. I mostly appreciated the atmosphere of the movie. The cinematography wasn't particularly flattering for anyone. I don't know how else to put it except that it felt like following a bunch of suits around during a crisis that they're a lot more worried about than you are. Expand
  5. Sep 2, 2014
    J.C. Chandor's debut is both challenging and a gripping look at corporate America during the early days of the recession of 2008. One bold look at corruption. Expand
  6. sLm
    Oct 21, 2012
    Story was okay, and so were the actors. But the feeling as a whole was boredom, and at the end we couldn't even see the consequences of the crisis, just the man burying a dog. Pssh. Expand
  7. Jan 13, 2012
    How can a film be labeled a thriller and suspenseful when I know what happens? And how can any reviewer say that their review contains spoilers? I know what happened. This is just a made up story of what Mr Gecko said "... is good". I knew they all did the wrong thing, thought only of themselves ,and took the money. Not one person cared. If this fictional account of what may have happened prior to the biggest hit to our economy in my 63 years didn't happen, the film would not have been made. There is no one to root for. Mr Irons says it's a great story. Maybe if it weren't true ( the outcome). Why would anyone praise a fictional film about soulless, inconsiderate, selfish people? And none of these people paid in any way, they made a bunch of money and not only has no one gone to jail, many got hired by our government. They deliberately sold worthless paper (isn't all paper really worthless) and didn't inform their customers. Lying, no? All the people that lost their jobs, their homes, their savings hopefully will not see this and no one involved in it will make much money. The reviewers, the actors, well, the people who don't worry about paying a mortgage, eating, etc. probably find it amusing as once again they are sticking it to the rest of us. I am prepared to suspend belief and even a film with no redeeming value of any kind can still be a well made film with believable characters, except, when the disastrous outcome is true. This film does not enlighten (what is a margin call? does it have anything to do with what happened? with the film?) nor entertain. If you are unlucky enough to see it, hopefully you will come away angry. But to paraphrase some dialogue from the film, "nothing is going to change. there will always be the haves and have nots. F*** 'em." Expand

See all 31 User Reviews


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