Rogue Trader

  • 1999
  • Movie
  • R
  • Biography, Docudrama, Thriller

Rising up the ladder of stock market success, talented upstart Nick Leeson (Ewan McGregor) scrambles out of clerkdom and into a promising career as a futures trader. Sent by his employer, Barings' Bank, to Jakarta, Leeson saves his company a fortune in disputed bearer bonds, further enhancing his fast-growing reputation as a financial whiz kid. After he's...read more

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Reviewed by Robert Pardi
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Rising up the ladder of stock market success, talented upstart Nick Leeson (Ewan McGregor) scrambles out of clerkdom and into a promising career as a futures trader. Sent by his employer, Barings' Bank, to Jakarta, Leeson saves his company a fortune in disputed bearer bonds, further enhancing his fast-growing reputation as a financial whiz kid. After he's transferred to Singapore, Leeson accepts the daunting challenge of instructing neophytes; when one trainee stumbles badly, Leeson impulsively covers the debt with bank funds and sets a dangerous precedent. Convinced of his invincibility, he secretly begins trading with his bank's own finances. But disaster strikes twice: First, when the Asian market collapses following an earthquake, and next when Leeson's creative accounting can't camouflage almost a billion dollars in losses. Having brought down an impregnable institution, Leeson pays for his hubris with a four-year prison stretch.

Succeeding neither as a dissection of rampant egoism nor as a critique of the British class system, and rooting shamelessly for its notorious protagonist, this not-so-cautionary tale about the perils of white-collar crime is a piece of cinematic puffery about an ambitious lad whose only sin, apparently, was to cover up the mistakes of his underlings. Portrayed by McGregor as an overwhelmed innocent, Leeson increasingly struggles to avoid detection, but when his fiscal recklessness finally spirals out of control, it's hard to care about his pseudo-tragedy, the audience having long since lost interest in his fiduciary crises due to flat-footed direction and run-of-the mill plot development. In fact, given the extraordinary dimensions of Leeson's misadventures, it's amazing how uninvolving this film is.

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  • Released: 1999
  • Rating: R
  • Review: Rising up the ladder of stock market success, talented upstart Nick Leeson (Ewan McGregor) scrambles out of clerkdom and into a promising career as a futures trader. Sent by his employer, Barings' Bank, to Jakarta, Leeson saves his company a fortune in dis… (more)

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