Billionaire Boys Club (2018) - USA
Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)
For the purpose of this review, we will stay objective as to the recent allegations going against veteran actor Kevin Spacey. The “Billionaire Boys Club” known also BBC is based upon a real life event where a wanna-be Harvard prep school graduate from the Valet ended up conning the rich Beverly Hills community and establishing a Ponzi scheme that was destined to fail. One thing led to another as power tends to corrupt and eventually overstepping the bottom line via the paradox philosophy to justice their actions with murder and kidnapping. Set in the 80s, the film is something that we have seen and experience in real life, the Madoff affair, “Wolf of Wall Street”, “London Gold scam in Hong Kong” and numerous other global spanning Ponzi schemes. The film condenses the story into 90 minutes and thus lack the details and character development of the 80s TV-movie that spans over 3 hours duration. Instead, we get more polish production values and better looking young stars, lavish decor homes and Hollywood like parties. However, none of that translate to a better film or story telling.
The problem of the film is largely due to the change in the story from the original court testimony to now portraying Joe Hunt (played by Ansel Elgort) as a victim of its circumstances and making Dean Karny (played by Taren Edgeton) the criminal mastermind that ended up the key witness of the crime. Reality tells us that Carney was protected from prosecution due to being the primary witness and Hunt is still in life imprisonment without possible parole. Emma Roberts plays Hunt’s girlfriend, is reduced in a role that could have been further explored. Despite all that is going on, Kevin Spacey produces the film most intriguing and mysterious character as con-artist Ron Levin.
All in all, this film fails to explore deeper into the human condition and motivations that made “Wolf of Wall Street” so successful, as a result it is a much lesser film that works as popcorn entertainment. Director James Cox seems to also glorify the actions and even tries to justify the happenings. The fact that these kids committed murder, conning investors to fund their lavish lifestyle and not accepting any responsibility shows a moral dilemma that is hard to support. It’s a shame that nothing deeper are explored and often just neglected in details.
I rated it 5/10