"Greed" is satire lacking bite

Steve Coogan appears in a scene from "Greed."

"Greed" is an interesting concept in search of a better movie.

Director Michael Winterbottom reunites with his "The Trip" films co-star Steve Coogan to create a satire about the capitalism, specifically in the world of high fashion, that is never quite the sum of its parts. Despite a terrific cast and some really great individual moments, it's a film that sputters along when it should zip.

Coogan stars as Richard McCreadie, a self-made billionaire who is looking to bounce back after a government investigation slows his financial momentum. McCreadie decides to celebrate his comeback with a lavish party off the coast of Greece. 

He plans to use this party as a chance to also announce that his biography that details his rise to the top, and commissions a writer named Nick (David Mitchell). But the more Nick digs up, the more he starts to realize that McCreadie cut a lot of corners on his way to the top.

Coogan is so good at playing a slimy character that he is the perfect choice for McCreadie, easing into the role effortlessly. Isla Fisher, as McCreadie's ex-wife, and Shirley Henderson, as McCreadie's mom, are both good in supporting roles, but Mitchell is too low key to be the film's moral compass.

Winterbottom's direction is spotty too. For every scene that works - the film features a lot of cameos, with singer James Blunt getting the best moment, and there is a great sequence that explains exactly how McCreadie made his money in a rather shady manner - there are stretches that feel off. The decision to film it partially as a mocumentary is the biggest culprit, bringing the pace of the film to a slog.

At times it's hard to figure out exactly what Winterbottom, who also co-wrote the film, is trying to say here. (And apparently even Winterbottom realized this because the film ends with a lengthy lesson on the imbalance of power in the fashion industry that feels more like a lecture that an organic extension of what we've just witnessed).

And there lies the problem with "Greed," it's a movie that hints at its potential, but never reaches those heights - resulting in a disappointing satire that lacks bite.

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