Rogue Trader

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Rogue Trader

In 1995, in what has to be one of the strangest incidents in financial history, one man almost single-handedly bankrupted the oldest private bank in the world. Working within the booming economy of Indonesia, Nick Leeson, an ambitious employee of England's Barings Bank, gambled with its money, taking unscrupulous risks that paid off big until they ceased to pay off at all. It's a fascinating story that's been turned into a less fascinating movie starring Ewan McGregor. Written and directed by James Dearden, Rogue Trader is an exposition-heavy, TV-movie-style retelling of Leeson's misadventures that (probably) gets all the details right but offers virtually nothing else. With a near-constant voiceover by McGregor explaining the intricacies of international finance and methods of taking advantage of them, the film is more reportage than narrative. And not particularly objective reportage, at that: Perhaps due to the fact that it adapts Leeson's own memoir, Rogue rarely portrays its hero in an unsympathetic light. McGregor comes off as a likable bloke who makes a few mistakes here and there but essentially means well. He may have been just that, but because this two-dimensional film paints every character with such flat, broad strokes, McGregor's characterization seems as artificial as everything else. Which is too bad: McGregor has the chops to make things better (not that he uses them), and Dearden has been given a number of elements with which to make an involving film, even without the real-life drama of Lesson's downfall. Its plot alone is potentially fascinating, but as it stands, Rogue Trader remains notable only for the potential it squanders.

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