Synopsis: When her idyllic vacation takes an unthinkable turn, Ellen Martin (Academy Award winner Meryl Streep) begins investigating a fake insurance policy, only to find herself down a rabbit hole of questionable dealings that can be linked to a Panama City law firm and its vested interest in helping the world's wealthiest citizens amass even larger fortunes
My score: 41/100
Steven Soderbergh is a well respected director and Scott Burns is a great writer, but this is a failure. Going into a movie that surrounds one of the biggest financial stories of the last decade, I was expecting to either get a compelling story, or at least an explanation in layman's terms of what actually happened. Instead, it's more of an interpretive dance where *extremely* wealthy actors and actresses talk about how tax evasion is bad and has to be fixed. Like, yea. I know. But I don't want to hear Meryl Streep and her $100 million dollar net worth tell me about it as if she cares.
I'll give it to the primary trio of Streep, Antonio Banderas and Gary Oldman. There was some extremely difficult long takes during this movie involving monologues with very pretentious language. Hats off, that is a job well done. Oldman attempted a German accent and failed miserably, which kind of took me out, but was otherwise ok. There is a lot of cameos/small roles from big name actors as well, but none of them are worth note particularly.
Again, I was hoping this movie would, at least, explain what happened with the Panama Papers. There was an opportunity for this to be something more like 'The Big Short', where you get an interesting narrative in addition to learning something you didn't know before. However, Soderbergh took a very deconstructed and artistic route in weaving this narrative, which lead to a film that taught you nothing and simply felt like a drag. There is a lot of social messaging about taxing the rich and stopping corporations from evading taxes, with the end card noting that 60 of the top companies in the U.S. don't pay any taxes whatsoever. Streep also ends on a 4th wall breaking monologue about how we have to stop that and fix campaign finance reform. These are all good things! I just find it hard to disassociate the fact that it's someone like Streep, who is probably just as guilty of tax avoidance, telling it to me. They even admit during the movie how both the director and writer have shell companies in Delaware. I simply don't find that cute or endearing.
Honestly, if it wasn't for the long takes, this movie would probably be in the 20s for me. If you're going to go into the history/culture of offshore companies, shells, tax evasion and the other gross shit that UHNWIs get away with, fucking do it. Don't make it this interpretive dance. It's like watching Jeffrey Dahmer the musical. We, as an audience, need the nitty gritty. We, as poors, are eating this shit in real life, so there is no need to put a layer of icing on it.