Adam McKay’s new film The Big Short, nominated for multiple Academy Awards, details the real-life story of a small group who realized the housing market was going to crash three years before it actually happened.
Trader Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling) narrates the film by breaking the fourth wall, which gives the audience a chance to feel closer to the action; a kind of exclusive look at what went on in 2005 when Dr. Michael Burry (Christian Bale) realized that almost all the loans on houses in the United States were unstable.
The banks thought he was crazy, but, since they were greedy they gratefully accepted the 1.3 billion dollars he was willing to spend on credit default swaps. If the housing market collapsed, Burry would see his billion-dollar investment return by 30 or 40 per cent, maybe even more.
This is where the other guys come in: Mark Baum (Steve Carrell) and his coworkers hear from Vennett about Burry’s investment, and after doing some research, decide to buy some swaps of their own. The same thing happens to Charlie Geller (John Magaro) and Jamie Shipley (Finn Wittrock), as they find a flyer by Vennett and with the help of retired banker Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt), also jump on the swap train.
The Big Short is engaging and funny, which is refreshing and different from the usual real-life stories about serious subject matter. McKay is able to maintain audience attention by using quick cuts, and cutting to flashes of supporting pictures during more information heavy scenes to ease the subject matter. He even enlists the help of Margot Robbie and Selena Gomez to explain complicated terms like collateralized debt obligations to viewers.
The movie also has a killer soundtrack and I found myself bouncing around in my seat more than once.
What I liked most about this movie was its ability to take a dense, serious, and complicated topic, and utilize it in a way that was engaging and fun, rather than boring and straightforward.
The acting was another impressive feat this movie accomplished, thanks to an award-winning cast. Ryan Gosling was a delight as Vennett, and played his role as the comedic relief with great success.
The Big Short is a must watch, however, only if you’re ready to pay attention. Understanding the housing market is tricky business, and unlike the banks, you want to be ready when it collapses.