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  • Series Premiere Date: May 23, 2011
  • Season #: 1
Too Big To Fail Image
Metascore
67

Generally favorable reviews - based on 17 Critics What's this?

User Score
6.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 16 Ratings

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  • Summary: The financial crisis of 2008 is dramatized in the HBO adaptation of Andrew Ross Sorkin's book with an all-star cast that includes John Hurt as US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson; Cynthia Nixon as his assistant secretary; James Wood as the CEO of Lehman Brothers; Billy Crudup as the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; and Paul Giamatti as Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve. Expand
  • Genre(s): Drama
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 17
  2. Negative: 1 out of 17
  1. Reviewed by: Mark A. Perigard
    May 23, 2011
    91
    For a topic that sounds as dry as a fund prospectus, the acting and pacing is exceptional.
  2. Reviewed by: Ken Tucker
    May 20, 2011
    83
    The sheer, cynical heartlessness of nearly everyone on-screen--from a wonderfully blunt Tony Shalhoub as Morgan Stanley's John Mack to Topher Grace as a calculating Paulson aide--is both dismaying and riveting.
  3. Reviewed by: Tim Goodman
    May 20, 2011
    80
    HBO's Too Big to Fail is mesmerizing and, if you can call watching an economics lesson from hell entertaining, then yes, it's entertaining.
  4. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    May 20, 2011
    70
    An entertaining if slightly dry account of the 2008 government bailout of the financial industry, as viewed over the shoulder of then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, whose agony is deftly conveyed by William Hurt.
  5. Reviewed by: Ellen Gray
    May 23, 2011
    70
    This is undeniably an important story, told in a relatively no-nonsense fashion, about a complex set of events that even people who watch PBS' "Frontline" regularly may still be flummoxed by. And it's one we really do need to understand. As boardroom dramas go, "Too Big to Fail" is bigger on intrigue--and backbiting--than "Celebrity Apprentice." And, yes, it's a disaster movie. I just hope you're not expecting special effects. Or a Hollywood ending.
  6. Reviewed by: Troy Patterson
    May 24, 2011
    60
    Too Big To Fail adapted by director Curtis Hanson and screenwriter Peter Gould from a book by journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin, is a decent movie with a stellar title.
  7. Reviewed by: Jaime N. Christley
    May 23, 2011
    12
    It's a strike against the film that a tiresome connect-the-dots summary of the major players and events is propped up with half-hearted attempts at suspense and ticking clocks and breathlessly watched congressional vote coverage, and rote scenes of actors barking into phones and delivering lines that writer Peter Gould probably wishes he got from the other Sorkin.

See all 17 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 6
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 6
  3. Negative: 1 out of 6
  1. Jun 6, 2011
    10
    This is a supercharged look behind the wall of power as they try to grapple with the imminent collapse of the whole financial system. gripping tv and very interesting. the cast and actors are super. Fantastice tv programming! Collapse
  2. Jun 21, 2011
    10
    Excellent . What more can i say. Truly riveting. Has to be seen. Whilst one may need some knowledge of financials the suspense can be enjoyed by all.
  3. May 29, 2011
    9
    What I thought would be a little dry turned out to be an absolutely thrilling account of one of the more critical behind-the-scenes events in American history. Exactly what Hank Paulson, Tim Geithner, Ben Bernanke, et al were engineering to prevent the worldwide financial system from melting down is fascinating. Billy Crudup and William Hurt are absolutely outstanding in this movie, as is Cynthia Nixon (surprisingly). Worth seeing in a big way. I might have to pick up Andrew Ross Sorkin's book on which this film is based. Expand
  4. Sep 6, 2011
    6
    "Too big to fail" ultimately .... FAILED.
    Let me count the ways:
    One, no one made the only thing to say about the dictum "Too big to fail"
    which is that Too big to fail ... is too big. A company, whose fall can bring down the entire country and the world, is just too big.

    Two, the most common response to this movie by critics and reviewers and on the interwebs is either that it's too complicated (so it's boring?) or surprisingly entertaining while being complicated. If that is what this film does to people, instead of warning them about completely insane upperclass culture of gambling with the money of the middle class, yes then it failed in its goals.
    Three, Paulson, and most players in this catastrophe are propped up as heroes or bystanders. except for Dick Fuld, who is blamed for killing the deal with Koreans. Then Paulson is blamed for not checking with the British. Just ONE of the investment bankers comes off as a greedy a-hole, but only to leftiwing viewers, since he's demanding the right to give out fat bonuses ... out of 125 billion dollars of taxpayer money.

    The reall villain, the mentality of greed and "government is bááááááád", is only indicated mildly. No one is pointing out that the home owner who borrowed too much are actually ALL (upper) middle class! In other words, that 's US, folks! Not the poor innercity blacks, who are blamed throughout the righwing blogosphere.

    The ultimate failure of this movie is that it does not give any hope that anybody has learned anything from all of this. Do we need to fall further down, to crash even harder, for the bankers to change course? No. these people will never learn NOT to be irresponsible. Whatever might happen, they will always gamble wiith our money

    So its our job to think of ways to stop them
    Expand
  5. Jun 12, 2011
    6
    With overall story line and dialog written straight out of a wall street textbook, this film is confusing to the average american viewer. However, people that understand the collapse of 2008 will enjoy it but then again they already witnessed this incident first hand. Expand
  6. Jul 13, 2012
    0
    What a piece of crap this was. They made the villains look like victims. As if Geitner, Paulsom, Dimon, Bernanke and the rest of them are the good guys trying their best to do the right thing. What nonsense. Am I really supposed to believe that the collapse can all be blamed on irresponsible home buyers and the british? Really? I call **** Expand

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