Directed by newcomer J.C. Chandor, the film tells the story of an investment bank 24 hours before it precipitates the 2008 financial crisis.
When the company sacks Eric Dale (Stanly Tucci), its head of risk management, he passes a USB thumb drive to junior employee Peter Sullivan (Zachary Quinto). Eric looks Peter in the eye and warns him to be careful.
Peter stays up all night to investigate the contents of the thumb drive and discovers a loophole in the financial products that his company sells. This loophole could send the company to its grave.
The movie then focuses on the struggle of the board of directors to save the company. We see the painful decisions they have to make and their willingness to breach moral boundaries.
The script is brilliant. Although the story pans out as expected, the punchy writing keeps the audience pinned to their seats.
The cast brings vividly to life the money-versus-morality conflict - as in the scene in which company chairman John Tuld (Jeremy Irons) corners Sam Rogers (Kevin Spacey) to ensure he is up to saving the company.
If you dream of making dead-or-alive, moral-or-money calls like a Wall Street chief executive, this film will give you a taste of what that life is like. But be warned - it leaves a bitter taste.