Review: Margin Call (15) ***

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As the current financial crisis attests, money makes the world go round and when the flow of capital is restricted, the ripple effect is felt from one continent to the next.

Writer-director JC Chandor explores the questionable morality of a fictitious group of men and women at the centre of the collapse of investment bank Margin Call.

This taut thriller unfolds over 36 nail-biting hours as executives in sharply-tailored suits huddle in boardrooms and take the momentous decisions that will send shockwaves through the markets.

Junior risk analysts Peter Sullivan (Zachary Quinto) and Seth Bregman (Penn Badgley) watch with horror as human resources sweeps through their floor, pulling aside employees, including their boss Eric (Stanley Tucci), as part of a massive redundancy plan.

Peter spends the night assessing the data and he makes a horrifying discovery: the company’s formula for long-term growth is fatally flawed. In short, projected losses are more than the net worth.

Having alerted senior colleague Will Emerson (Paul Bettany) and head of sales Sam Rogers (Kevin Spacey), Peter and Seth watch in awe as high-ranking executives, including head of securities Jared Cohen (Simon Baker) and ballsy head of risk assessment Sarah Robertson (Demi Moore), rush to the office in the dead of night.

Then CEO John Tuld (Jeremy Irons) descends from on high and listens with cool detachment as Peter reiterates his sobering findings. Irons chews scenery with gusto, while Spacey reflects the humanity in the eye of a storm as a department head desperately trying to protect the people under him from the full force of the blast. If Gordon Gecko, the oily anti-hero of Oliver Stone’s Wall Street, was right and greed is good, then the characters in Chador’s film are very good indeed.