TV review: Too Big to Fail

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

HBO Films' latest opus, "Too Big to Fail," recounts the 2008 financial crisis with an incredible collection of talent both behind and in front of the camera.

The pedigree for this made-for-TV movie is impressive: It's based on New York Times financial columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin's best-selling book, adapted for the screen by "Breaking Bad" scribe Peter Gould and directed by Curtis Hanson ("L.A. Confidential"). Plus, it stars heavy-hitters Paul Giamatti and William Hurt.

Throw in a supporting cast that includes Billy Crudup, James Woods and Bill Pullman, and you've got a can't-miss, right?

Well, kind of. All of the players involved do an excellent job - the acting is top-notch, the writing and direction is strong.

The only problem is that the story behind the 2008 financial crisis is entirely about bankers, and they just aren't a very thrilling bunch.

From the perspective of then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson (Hurt), we see the inside dealings that led to the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and the eventual $700 billion bailout of Wall Street. Paulson calculates with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke (a restrained Giamatti) and bank CEOs about how to stop the bleeding.

"Too Big to Fail" is an interesting and realistic look at the financial crisis. The problem is, there's just not much of a wow factor.

Go big:

"Too Big To Fail"

Debuts 9 p.m. Monday, May 23 on HBO

2.5 stars