Arbitrage Review
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Times have definitely changed since the days of Gordon Gekko and his “Greed is good” philosophy. But while much of the country struggles to make ends meet, there are still plenty of people who deal with millions of dollars every day. And, for some reason, Hollywood still feels the need to make movies about them—like writer / director Nicholas Jarecki’s Arbitrage.

Robert Miller (Richard Gere) has built himself a hedge fund empire—but now that he’s turning 60, it’s time to sell. As the deal continues to be postponed, though, Miller becomes increasingly concerned.

But then, one night, Miller’s entire empire is placed in danger. While escaping to the country, he dozes at the wheel and crashes the car, instantly killing his girlfriend, Julie (Laetitia Casta). Miller flees the scene, knowing that any unwanted attention could jeopardize the merger, as well as dig up information that could hurt him and his family. But a zealous detective (Tim Roth) is determined to uncover the clues that will bring him to justice.

Back in the ‘80s, movies like Arbitrage—and characters like Robert Miller—were a dime a dozen. Back then, though, they were fun to watch—those super-slick, fast-talking sharks in their designer suits. Now, however, a film like this one needs a hook—something new or surprising to make it stand out. Unfortunately, though, Arbitrage is missing that all-important hook.

Robert Miller is the boilerplate Hollywood billionaire. He’s got it all: wealth, power, a couple of kids to run his business, an elegant wife to handle his charitable foundations, and, of course, a younger woman on the side. Bold and brash, he’s convinced that nothing—and no one—can get in his way. His money, after all, can buy happiness, friends, lawyers, and anything else he may need.

But, as is always the case, something comes along to threaten his perfect existence. When it happens, it’s no big surprise—nor is the way it all plays out. And while audiences may eagerly await the catch—that clever twist that changes everything—it never comes. Instead, it’s all pretty simple and straightforward, with fewer surprises than the average episode of your favorite TV procedural.

What’s left, then, is the cast—like Susan Sarandon, who’s strong but sadly underused as Miller’s sharp-witted wife, and Tim Roth, who does the best he can with an underdeveloped character. Gere, meanwhile, is as slick and smooth (albeit sometimes a bit over-the-top) as ever as the arrogant billionaire—but one charming star isn’t enough to carry the entire film.

Thirty years or so ago, the greed and scandal of Arbitrage probably would have made it a hit. Now, however, it’s mostly just a cliché.

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