Seen one of Michael Moore’s documentaries? Then you’ve seen this one.
With typically red-hot prescience, the provocateur follows up his healthcare autopsy Sicko with a look into the recent financial meltdown. But as ever, Moore’s movie still seems to be about a fatman on a soapbox.
The Flint-Michigan firestarter isn’t an academic or an economic – but he is an immensely skilful agitprop filmmaker. Opening the film with surveillance footage of bank robberies, he lays out the history of how democracy got corrupted and how big business is eeeeevil. As well as making complex ideas easy to swallow, Moore reminds us he’s a master of investigating tragedy with comedy, exposing injustice with shock and awe.
Heroic pilots who are so badly paid they need second jobs. Judges scoring millions of dollars in exchange for jailing as many juveniles as possible. Corporations like Wal-Mart who take out life-insurance policies on their employees (“Dead peasant insurance”) and collect millions when they die.
Trouble is, this cinematic spoon-feeding is getting old. Rolled out for more than two hours, his trusty arsenal is all here: film clips, comic musical cues and stunts that just aren’t cunning anymore. From attempting to make a citizen’s arrest at the AIG headquarters to covering Wall Street in crime-scene tickertape, Moore’s finally told the same joke too many times.
True, his heart is in the right place even when his camera isn’t. Watching victims of foreclosure being hired to clear out their own homes is incredibly moving – until Moore slaps on weepy music to slam the point. The filmmaker reveals he once wanted to be an activist priest. But preaching to the converted is easy.
Lacking the focus and fire of his two best films (Bowling For Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11), Moore’s latest attack-doc doesn’t have enough insights to pay off.
Still fighting the good fight for the working man, Capitalism is entertaining but conspicuously bankrupt of fresh ideas and insights. By now, Moore is starting to feel like less.