Promotional poster for 'Chasing Madoff.' (Handout)
Chasing Madoff is a documentary about a whistleblower named Harry Markopolos. He's a money man who tried to expose Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme for years before anyone paid attention.
The movie is based in part on Markopolos' book, No One Would Listen, and it's an extraordinary indictment of the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) and various reporters, politicians and other financial players. Seems a lot of people probably knew about Madoff or at least suspected, but were cowed by the man's power.
Markopolos, according to the movie, knew something was off the first time he glanced at Madoff's too-perfect performance line. Within five minutes he smelled fraud, and suspected a Ponzi scheme specifically. He was correct, but it took the authorities a decade to do anything about it.
Chasing Madoff is an interesting story. Too bad it's such a mediocre movie.
Full of amateurish visuals and lame attempts to pump up what's a fairly straightforward film, Chasing Madoff tries and fails to introduce a crime story feel to the proceedings. Markopolos begins to fear for his life, probably not a surprising development, but footage of his gun use and his daily check of the family car for bombs just seems ludicrous. He talks about deciding to kill Madoff before Madoff can kill him, if it came to that; we're not suggesting it wasn't a dire situation, but it plays fake and paranoid here.
Besides a few testimonials from people who lost all their money to Madoff's Ponzi scheme, Chasing Madoff offers little material outside of Markopolos, his crusade and his cronies. That's fine, because his financial detective work is interesting enough, but there isn't enough material on offer here to make a satisfying feature film.
Ironically, after all of Markopolos' efforts to tell the world what Madoff was doing, the end came for Madoff through different channels -- including the stock market dive in 2008.
Chasing Madoff covers but one chapter in this ongoing complicated story about greed, lies and the American dream. More Movie Reviews