User Score
7.1

Generally favorable reviews- based on 118 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 99 out of 118
  2. Negative: 11 out of 118

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  1. Sep 2, 2014
    7
    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.
  2. Jul 17, 2014
    8
    Similar to another quiet, but fiery financial thriller ("Arbitrage"), "Margin Call" is a gripping, unflinchingly gray and well-written piece that simplifies a complex topic into something everyone can understand.
  3. May 19, 2014
    3
    This film is boring from beginning to end. It's not even a particularly good depiction of the greed behind the mortgage crisis. The harm done to ordinary folks is totally absent.
  4. Jan 31, 2014
    7
    A great cast and really solid direction, help this film about the financial crisis take off. As much as the film, at times, attempted to try and put the issues into simple terms, however, it still seemed confusing at times and unless you have some knowledge of the field, you'll be left sitting there confused. Luckily, I understood some of what they were talking about, but certainly not allA great cast and really solid direction, help this film about the financial crisis take off. As much as the film, at times, attempted to try and put the issues into simple terms, however, it still seemed confusing at times and unless you have some knowledge of the field, you'll be left sitting there confused. Luckily, I understood some of what they were talking about, but certainly not all of it and that hampered the enjoyablility for me. Otherwise, the characterization of the many characters was done really well and the acting, across the board, was really good. Overall, a solid film. Expand
  5. Jul 1, 2013
    3
    We rated this movie as a Nay but watchable listen to our podast on iTunes to find out why.
    Critically Acclaimed, Publicly Reviewed on itunes.
    https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/critically-acclaimed-publicly/id660700036?mt=2&ign-mpt=uo%3D4
  6. Mar 28, 2013
    8
    First time director and writer J.C. Chandor delivers a gripping, tense film with Academy nominated screenplay, told largely over the hours of a single New York night.

    The majority of the 'action' takes place in dimly lit offices, often lit solely by the banks of computer monitors flashing with the doomed data, with the neon skyline of New York as a backdrop through the office windows.
    First time director and writer J.C. Chandor delivers a gripping, tense film with Academy nominated screenplay, told largely over the hours of a single New York night.

    The majority of the 'action' takes place in dimly lit offices, often lit solely by the banks of computer monitors flashing with the doomed data, with the neon skyline of New York as a backdrop through the office windows. It's a setting that reflects the severity of the situation, once aware of the issue no-one ever suggests calling it a night. The sense of importance is also highlighted by the manner in which the disaster-in-the-making is passed up through the chain, with each manager, head of department, or senior executive, only able to pass it on until the CEO choppers in at 3 AM to rule on the matter.

    Justifiably, the banking industry has been criticised and penalised for the greed that led to the 2008 crisis but interestingly, despite the firm making a decision that will ultimately lead to the crisis, Chandor gives a voice to the industry to justify their greed and existence. Will Emerson (Bettany) argues that the bankers greed is only able to exist due to the demands of 'real people' to own things they cannot afford, while CEO Tuld (Irons) is considerably more blasé, stating that the downturn is simply part of the economic cycle and even that there will simply be more starving dogs than fat cats for a while. The narrative is balanced however, with Sam Rogers (Spacey) and several others voicing their discontent at the irresponsibility about to be shown by Tuld and Cohen (Baker), while scapegoat Sarah Robertson (Moore) goes down declaring that her warnings were not listened to.

    A great cast, an interesting subject and great film making, Margin Call is a must for those wanting a film to test the old grey matter.
    Expand
  7. Mar 3, 2013
    8
    On the face of it, this film does not appear to be the kind of thing to inspire an audience. I’m here to tell you that is far from the truth; I found it very compelling and a great eye-opener to the mechanics of the financial crash. Great performances all round with top honours going to Jeremy Irons and Kevin Spacey; both really excelled in this one. I think it’s a film I’d like to seeOn the face of it, this film does not appear to be the kind of thing to inspire an audience. I’m here to tell you that is far from the truth; I found it very compelling and a great eye-opener to the mechanics of the financial crash. Great performances all round with top honours going to Jeremy Irons and Kevin Spacey; both really excelled in this one. I think it’s a film I’d like to see again because the details of the reasons behind it all are quite complex and I’d like to get a better handle on that. It does lose a little momentum in the final quarter but it’s certainly worth investing the time to watch.

    SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED

    My score: 8.1/10
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  8. Feb 4, 2013
    10
    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 thisMargin 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
  9. Dec 6, 2012
    8
    Brilliant film! Great cast. Fantastic screenplay. While I'm not an expert in business/economics, the dialogue in this film was engrossing and powerful. One of my favorites of 2011 and one of the best as well! I plan to watch this again soon.
  10. sLm
    Oct 21, 2012
    5
    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.
  11. Oct 2, 2012
    9
    Almost perfect. The film's contemporaneous relevance might be compared to certain stage plays in Shakespeare's time. The acting here is intoxicating in its honesty; the story-telling is exquisitely humble. To appreciate this movie solely as a "cautionary tale" is to overlook the true value proposition.
  12. Aug 28, 2012
    9
    Having worked in investment banking, I found this movie very interesting. Although there is a clear bias against the trader, many of the perceptions and ethical values conveyed are somewhat accurate based on my experience. It provides good information how the system works, and how it was destroyed. Additionally, it was well acted, and has a very unique and attention-holding plot. IHaving worked in investment banking, I found this movie very interesting. Although there is a clear bias against the trader, many of the perceptions and ethical values conveyed are somewhat accurate based on my experience. It provides good information how the system works, and how it was destroyed. Additionally, it was well acted, and has a very unique and attention-holding plot. I definitely recommend it! Expand
  13. Aug 10, 2012
    8
    The characters make the film here, as they're well drawn, yet difficult to sympathize with as this reveals the darker side of the decisions that sparked the 2008 financial crisis.
  14. Apr 1, 2012
    6
    Margin Call is more like Shark thriller than financial meltdown movie. What'd you expect from movie about people who 'trapped' all night fighting the beginning of crisis? Powerful script, act and direction.
  15. Mar 16, 2012
    7
    An engrossing drama about the shrewdness of the financial industry with a wonderful cast that delivers great perfomances (OK there is Demi Moore in it as well, but she has a small part) with Jeremy Irons standing out.
  16. Mar 11, 2012
    3
    Not a bad movie, but the movie just was not attractive to me, bored me, the only thing salvageable was the decent performances, mainly the short appearance of Stanley Tucci.
  17. Jan 28, 2012
    3
    This film is so painfully dull. It does not fail because it's story but instead because of it's horrible choice of style and terribly slow moving plot. The film attempts to build tension throughout the film to lead up to it's climax. However the climax is well done but the viewer feels nothing because at that point of the film they don't care what happens. The film try's to go into what'sThis film is so painfully dull. It does not fail because it's story but instead because of it's horrible choice of style and terribly slow moving plot. The film attempts to build tension throughout the film to lead up to it's climax. However the climax is well done but the viewer feels nothing because at that point of the film they don't care what happens. The film try's to go into what's right and wrong among many other themes but ultimately all of them go nowhere with the last scene of the film being spacey burrying his dead dog. I either could not figure out the significance in this scene or like most bad movies there was no significance. Definitely the most overated film I have ever seen. Expand
  18. Jan 25, 2012
    8
    Just an awesome movie about how **** up this world is now. The whole film was so amazing.Awesome acting . The whole cast was great. great screenplay and Directing by J.C. Chandor. Margin Call is a different kind of thriller which is amazing coz its damn realistic .One of 2011's best movie with perfect screenplay , Great Cast and acting and good direction. Dialogues were so smart and yeahJust an awesome movie about how **** up this world is now. The whole film was so amazing.Awesome acting . The whole cast was great. great screenplay and Directing by J.C. Chandor. Margin Call is a different kind of thriller which is amazing coz its damn realistic .One of 2011's best movie with perfect screenplay , Great Cast and acting and good direction. Dialogues were so smart and yeah this world is **** up,Money +Human=Worst then Animals . J.C. Chandor's first feature film Margin Call will definitely take him higher. Expand
  19. Jan 13, 2012
    0
    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 haveHow 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
  20. Jan 4, 2012
    10
    This was very close to being the perfect movie. It was a great story, it was based on the reality of the world around us, the dialog was authentic, and the actors were brilliant. What more can the critics ask for? It just shows how powerful film can really be--without violence, without special effects, and without sex. Of course, the f-word was a special guest star, but unfortunately thatThis was very close to being the perfect movie. It was a great story, it was based on the reality of the world around us, the dialog was authentic, and the actors were brilliant. What more can the critics ask for? It just shows how powerful film can really be--without violence, without special effects, and without sex. Of course, the f-word was a special guest star, but unfortunately that is how the prostitute-addicted, drinking, lying robots on Wall Street really talk. The plot centers on a company that is basically a nonentity--there is no real product, no real service to humanity. These companies are merely parasites on our society whose function is to move money around, while their people get paid astronomical salaries for being a lot like Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz--they prance around singing, "if I only had a brainâ Expand
  21. Jan 3, 2012
    8
    This is a good movie. Great actor selection, Kevin Spacey and Jeremy Irons really making the difference. Comedy, drama and action in one place. It is a must-see.
  22. Dec 22, 2011
    2
    As entertainment this movie is probably a 6 or 6.5. However as historical fiction, which the film purports to be, it is an inexcusable dis-education of the public as to what happened in late 2008. It actually takes quite a bit of financial education to understand what happened. My suggestion to those who are interested would be to learn about leverage, the modern banking system, CODsAs entertainment this movie is probably a 6 or 6.5. However as historical fiction, which the film purports to be, it is an inexcusable dis-education of the public as to what happened in late 2008. It actually takes quite a bit of financial education to understand what happened. My suggestion to those who are interested would be to learn about leverage, the modern banking system, CODs and MBSs. Then read Ron Suskind's excellent book "Confidence Men." Expand
  23. Dec 12, 2011
    8
    This is an exceptional piece of independent cinema. Margin Call tackles the '08 financial crisis in the shrewdest, most charismatic way possible; with its brisk story telling, cool character development and a satisfying close. Chandor's direction made this a tangible, thrilling and understandable yet complex viewing experience; clearly outlining the root of the disaster and its unfortunateThis is an exceptional piece of independent cinema. Margin Call tackles the '08 financial crisis in the shrewdest, most charismatic way possible; with its brisk story telling, cool character development and a satisfying close. Chandor's direction made this a tangible, thrilling and understandable yet complex viewing experience; clearly outlining the root of the disaster and its unfortunate consequences. Its also important to mention the ensemble cast, who all gave powerhouse performances in this small movie. Very well done. Expand
  24. Dec 11, 2011
    1
    I had high expectations for this movie. It was really disappointed. The plot was thin - no character development to speak of. And they way the story came together was absurd. I was hoping for a thriller - this was a joke.
  25. Nov 15, 2011
    7
    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. IVery, 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
  26. Nov 13, 2011
    3
    If you know what a Margin Call is then you will be disappointed with this movie. The movies way of explaining anything is to say 'in plain English'. Apparently no-one in the upper echelons of the firm know nothing about securities as it is boiled down to the lowest common denominator possible. This is no Enron- The smartest man in the room' - this is Fast and Furious. Fail.
  27. Nov 5, 2011
    6
    This movie would have been a lot more potent had it come out right after the crisis. Three years later we have received so much information on the happenings in 2008 that a film that stays this close to the surface is just not going to cut it.
  28. Oct 26, 2011
    9
    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
    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.
    Expand
  29. Oct 24, 2011
    8
    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
  30. Oct 23, 2011
    10
    It's definitely the best Wall street movie I've ever seen. Very well-written: complex characters and smart lines. It makes you want to become rich by every means necessary. It's that good!
Metascore
76

Generally favorable reviews - based on 38 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 38
  2. Negative: 1 out of 38
  1. Reviewed by: Ian Freer
    Jan 9, 2012
    80
    Chock-full of terrific performances, Margin Call is the kind of gripping, grown-up film that these days is usually found on the small screen.
  2. 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.
  3. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Nov 3, 2011
    75
    Margin Call doesn't demonize its characters, nor does it absolve them of their sins. The movie simply shows, without judgment or anger, how our economic crisis came to be.