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Here is a movie with right on its side. But that hasn’t stopped it being messy, unsatisfying and dramatically redundant: a laborious Ted-talking satire delivered with the same air of smirking self-satisfaction that I found unbearable in Adam McKay’s The Big Short. That, too, was about financial wrongdoing with wide ramifications, based on a smart nonfiction bestseller.
This film is directed by Steven Soderbergh and written by Scott Z Burns, inspired by the 2017 book Secrecy World: Inside the Panama Papers by the Pulitzer-winning journalist Jake Bernstein. It creates a fictional scenario spun off from the very real scandal revealed by the Panama Papers data dump – a world of unaccountable offshore companies that launder dodgy cash and allow the super-rich to avoid tax.
Meryl Streep phones in her performance as Ellen, a retired woman whose husband has been killed in a freak accident, and who finds she is unable to sue the people guilty of negligence because their re-insurers are concealed behind a shell company in Nevis. So she resolves to track down the bad guys. The movie is narrated by a grinning pair of dirty rotten scoundrels: Ramón Fonseca (Antonio Banderas) and Jürgen Mossack (Gary Oldman), the real-life legal rogues who unwillingly made the headlines with their fabulously lucrative business manufacturing tens of thousands of iffy shell companies all over the world from their Panamanian base.
The plot features many different imaginary victims and villains, never staying with any of them long enough for us to care, though one chapter – about a crooked African businessman played by Nonso Anozie – goes on for a bafflingly long time without revealing why his story deserves any more space than anyone else’s. Streep’s story does not provide a central dramatic thread but simply disappears into the film’s patchwork quilt of tales before triumphantly emerging with an odd, dramatically stylised imposture that is easily seen through. A disappointment.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: The Laundromat review – Steven Soderbergh gets caught in a spin | Film