Review by Camden Ferrell
From director Steven Soderbergh (High Flying Bird), The Laundromat is the filmmaker's latest film for Netflix. Despite its rich and controversial premise, this movie wastes the potential of its highly talented cast on a lackluster and lifeless script.
This movie is a comedy-drama about the Panama papers leak back in 2016. After a woman’s vacation turns into a tragedy, and she deals with her insurance, she is lead on an investigation that uncovers countless shady dealings involving the law firm Mossack Fonseca. This premise has lots of promise to tell a gripping narrative about the globally known leak, but it never feels engaging at all.
Its main problem is it tries to present itself in the vein of films like The Big Short by having quirky narration and presentation, but it doesn’t work very well for this film. It aims for humor and satire, and it feels completely empty. It relies too much on its eccentricities to weave together all of these stories, but it never quite sticks the landing.
This film features an all-star cast that consists of Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, and Antonio Banderas. These are some of the most talented actors working today, but they are reduced to shallow dialogue and cheesy quips in this movie. They aren’t given great material to work with, and none of the actors seem particularly thrilled with what they are doing. To make matters worse, Oldman uses a cringingly awkward accent for his entire performance.
The movie’s main problem is its lack of variation in its tone and style. It feels very monotonous, and it doesn’t make an effort to engage its viewers. It also lacks the kind of accessibility that a film like The Big Short has. It never fully dives into the scope of this scandal but remains content with its superficial exploration of the event.
Despite this, there is a segment about a wealthy African billionaire (played by Nonso Anozie) that is quite enjoyable. It features the domestic troubles and infidelities in his life that has some tangible stakes. It develops the characters in a way that elevates the business side of the story while creating an interesting narrative.
Unfortunately, the rest of the movie doesn’t employ that technique. It feels very derivative and unoriginal. It’s not especially off-putting, but it is rather boring. It’s disappointing that a talented filmmaker like Soderbergh created a movie that doesn’t have very much to say about its subject.
This is a movie that might be fairly educational to those unfamiliar with the Panama paper leaks. However, those already accustomed with the leak won’t have much to learn or enjoy from this film. It is a hollow attempt at retelling one of the biggest leaks in history.
The Laundromat isn’t really worth the time to watch. Even for fans of Soderbergh or the cast, this film will bore you rather than interest you. Its messages and themes are muddled by a weak script and questionable execution.
The Laundromat is currently streaming on Netflix.