Enormously entertaining satire of corporate America
Matthew Horner | USA | 05/05/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This especially witty satire is one of the best movies about modern corporate attitudes ever made. It's based on the true story of the leveraged buyout of RJR Nabisco in the 1980s. While the filmmakers have naturally taken some artistic license, I think they capture the spirit of the event. In big business, they assert, given the choice between being greedy and doing the right thing, being greedy usually wins. This was especially true in this case because the bidding war that broke out drove the purchase price into the stratosphere. The company's stock, which had been trading in the $40 range was driven up to over $100. A whole lot of rich people got a whole lot richer.There are many things to enjoy about "Barbarians at the Gate", not the least of which is James Garner as F. Ross Johnson, the man who ran RJR. He is completely believable as a natural born salesman who rose to run one of the world's biggest corporations. His greed may be a turnoff, but his zest for living is infectious and charming. You can't help liking the guy. His nemesis in this high stakes game in the financier, Henry Kravis, played by Jonathon Pryce. It's a deliciously villainous role, and Pryce makes the most of it. Also of note is the great character actor Peter Riegert as Peter Cohen, Johnson's right-hand man in the deal.I especially liked the movie's tone. It looks upon the goings on with an eye as jaundiced as the players themselves. It views them as overgrown boys fighting over a very big toy, but it does so with an amused, almost affection, flavor. The result is an enormously entertaining and very funny movie."
Barbarians: Fast funny satire, and it's true too!
Matthew Horner | 10/16/1997
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Who knew you could make a comedy about a Leveraged Buyout (LBO)? James Garner, in a brilliant performance, plays F. Ross Johnson, the CEO of RJR Nabisco who wants to buy out the company. He learns about LBOs from the cool slick Henry Kravis, the then-master of the buyout (played by Jonathan Pryce). When Ross takes Kravis' advice and goes out on his own, Henry gets MAD and fires his own salvo. This was a time when people threw figures like "$25 billion" around and thought nothing of it. The technicals of the deal are explained with enough detail that non-financiers can easily follow what's going on. Nice satirical touches like Ross' wife's manicurist explaining the art of the deal to her. A lot of cussing; after all, this was the ultimate boys' game. Fine fun movie. END"
Great entertainment if you like Wall Street, etc.
Phuoc Le | San Diego, CA USA | 01/15/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"People who complained that this movie doesn't compare to the book should relax a little. Any movie that's based on books cannot do the book justice in less than 2 hours. If you have 3 hours a la Lord of the Rings or 4 hours like the A&E production of Pride & Prejudice, then maybe and I would have adjusted my rating accordingly.But this movie is under 2 hours and managed to take a very complicated topic in Leveraged Buy-Outs (LBO's) in one of the biggest LBO's of our time in RJR-Nabisco and manages to make the story very entertaining. It flows quickly and I had no trouble following what's going on.The acting is superb; Jonathan Pryce played Henry Kravis as a cold, calculated and ruthless corporate raider (whether Kravis is like that in real life I don't know) and James Garner did a nice job as F. Ross Johnson. Overall, if you like wall street type movies like Wall Street with Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen, I would highly recommend this movie. In fact, I like this better than Wall Street."
Infamous LBO and Characters Interestingly Depicted
Big Guy | 10/20/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In the wild and wooly 1980s, leveraged buyouts (LBOs) -- financed predominantly through the issuance of junk bonds -- reigned supreme. James Garner gives a nice performance as CEO of RJR Nabisco, F. Ross Johnson. After reluctantly meeting with KKR's LBO guru Henry Kravis (portrayed masterfully by Jonathan Pryce), Johnson figures it would be best to go his own route to accomplish the buyout; after all, Johnson wants to retain his autonomy and Pryce would unlikely allow this to happen.An all-out power war ensues, with Johnson working with Shearson Lehman Brothers pitted against Kravis and the powerhouse Drexel Burnham Lambert (mysteriously downplayed).The performances are great and the storyline moves fast and holds your interest. Not to be missed if the dynamic world of finance is your thing. A very different movie than Wall Street both cinematically and contextually. Stars James Garner, Jonathan Pryce (really, really good), and Peter Riegert."