“Equity,” a new thriller starring “Breaking Bad’s Anna Gunn, bills itself as “the first female-driven Wall Street movie.” Certainly it doesn’t feel like male driven stories like “Wolf of Wall Street” or “The Big Short,” but its welcome point of view would have been better served by a stronger story.
Naomi Bishop (Gunn) lives in a world where multi million dollar deals are done over a meal of Tasmanian Sea Trout. She’s a top flight Wall Street investment banker trying to salvage her reputation after an IPO she steered failed miserably. Her bosses think she “rubs people the wrong way” but her skill in the boardroom places her at the forefront of a new IPO, a social media network called Cachet. “I’m going to take your company public,” she says to the company’s CEO (Samuel Roukin). “Are you ready to be a rock star?”
On the eve of their initial stock offering some ethical issues arise, placing Naomi at odds with her hedge funder boyfriend Michael Connor (James Purefoy), her ambitious assistant Erin Manning (Sarah Megan Thomas) and an old friend Samantha (Alysia Reiner) who also happens to be a state attorney with a speciality in securities fraud.
There’s a good story of financial intrigue buried deep in “Equity” but it gets lost in the languid pacing and by-the-book dialogue. The film, which gives a voice to female characters in a milieu where women are typically unseen and unheard, doesn’t do much with the opportunity. Gunn is formidable whether she is working the boardroom or berating an underling for bringing her a cookie with only three chocolate chips in it, but her motives are never clear. She is a bit of a caricature, a she-wolf of Wall Street who declares, “I like money” but never really lets us in under the hood.
“Equity’s” tale of power and trust lacks the flash and trash that made “Wolf of Wall Street” and “The Big Short” such romps. Instead it’s stoically straightforward, bogged down by procedure and a slight script.