Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street Documentary Review, Bad Bernie Burns Billions

What Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street is all about without spoiling the show

Uh, this one is pretty self-explanatory. Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street is about none other than Bernie Madoff and the Ponzi Scheme which made him a household name and not for a good reason. Judging by the title, you can already see how the filmmakers feel about him. They aren’t making a film to defend Madoff.

Madoff was a high-roller on Wall Street for decades. While it wasn’t until the late 2000s when he became notorious, he had been committing illegal acts for a long time. He is the ultimate fraudster. His remorse is sold separately.

What was good about Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street

This documentary tells the full story of Bernie Madoff from the time he was a child to his death and even a little beyond; not that we get a ghost story or anything. We see where he first learned people could be motivated by money. As a child, he paid a neighborhood girl to be his friend.

I think The Monster of Wall Street did a fantastic job of taking a somewhat boring documentary topic and making it more watchable. Money and the stock market are topics that do interest me. However, documentaries about it can come across as bland. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, for instance, had me sleepy.

The Monster of Wall Street is stylized well for the modern true crime audience. There are what I’d consider semi-reenactments. The actors don’t actually have any lines. They’re more there to act things out with narrators or talking heads telling the story. You’ve seen it in a lot of true crime documentaries. Visually, it helped keep my attention.

Nothing about The Monster of Wall Street was boring. I think the filmmakers did the right thing waiting until he was dead to come out with this. It’s not out of respect either. Madoff was a cruel-minded and manipulative person. Waiting until his death works well because we get a bigger story with some more completeness. Many times there are documentaries that are made when we know there will be another chapter, like Sins of Our Mother. The Bernie Madoff story seems complete.

The tragedies and victims are the focal points of this documentary. There was no attempt to make Madoff seem like a sympathetic character. It was the right take to have.

What could have made Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street better

This is not a binge-able documentary. I had to stop after three episodes and watch something else. It is four episodes long with two of them lasting over an hour. It’s definitely long, however, at no point did it feel like there was too much unnecessary information.

I would have liked The Monster of Wall Street to be a little more fun. The tone was incredibly dark. I enjoy documentaries with sassy reporters. This documentary avoids it. We hear much more from people he robbed with his acts of fraud. It was a bit surprising to not see more news coverage. One explanation could be that his earlier crimes seemed to be covered up by the SEC. A lot of this documentary takes place well before his arrest. We get wholly original content. I do wish we could have had more in-the-moment takes from the past.

There was one funny moment where they pointed out how much Madoff and one of his biggest investors look very much alike despite her being a woman. It gave me a good laugh and a desire to watch Mrs. Doubtfire for the 100th time in my life. More simple humorous moments like this could have lightened the mood.

Is Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street worth watching?

If you know of Bernie Madoff but not the complete story, this documentary will do a great job of catching you up. It probably won’t be all that interesting for people who are unfamiliar with the story whatsoever. I can’t imagine too many people, at least in the United States, not knowing who he is. We mine as well change it from a Ponzi to Madoff.

This documentary won’t be for everyone yet it gets my seal of approval. You’ll be entertained enough.

Overall Score: 7 out of 10

No new grounds are broken in Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street. What makes it good is how they were able to take a well-known subject, cover it all, and not be a ridiculously boring adventure.

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