By Brad Laidman | August 29, 2001

The execrable “Quicksilver” would probably not merit mention if I didn’t have personal unique experience with its subjects and surroundings. It would be like a lawyer refusing comment on the nonsense in “The Firm,” “Legal Eagles,” or any episode of Ally McBeal. Kevin Bacon plays an Options Trader on the floor of the Pacific Stock Exchange, a position I shared in disgruntled fashion for ten years. The trading scenes were filmed on the same floor I stood on every day between 6:30 AM and 1 PM. The floor guard in the movie is the same guy that’s still there today, and I got to meet a number of the traders and brokers featured in the background of any number of the fascinating and thrilling sequences featured here. I was told that Kevin Bacon used to hook up with a number of different women in the floor’s break room, but that’s hearsay, pejorative, and I can’t really remember who it was that told me that.
Bacon’s Jack Casey is a high flyer. He has enough money to offer a cab driver a hundred bucks to race a bike messenger through the streets of San Francisco on the merest whim. One day Jack, knowledgeable stock picker though he has been in the past makes a colossal error of some sort and loses all of his money and all of his parents’ too. There’s a great example of vintage drama in the scene where Jack goes home to let his Dad know that all of his retirement money has been flushed down the bowels of the Capitalist system. Of course, good old Dad is merely worried about his son’s confidence and future.
Indeed, Jack decides to give up the high flying of high finance and instead becomes a bicycle messenger, or in the words of Pulp Fiction’s Vincent Vega a “bum”. Remember that annoying guy Puck from the Real World? He was a San Francisco bike messenger, and he in no way was an anomaly. These guys used to hang around outside of the Stock Exchange all day in mass hordes playing hacky sack and dressed considerably worse than your average homeless person a great number of which San Francisco also lays claim to. Of course, broke Jack still finds a way to afford a huge loft in the center of the city, but that is because he eventually becomes the top bicycle messenger in town. He wins that title after drug dealers knock off Larry Fishburne, the holder of that title. Eventually, Jack collects a bunch of money from Paul Rodriguez and other fellow multi-ethnic low income bikers and decides to see what he can do back in the world of fast money.
This is where things get nuts for me. Jack spends all summer watching one stock and is sure that it is way underpriced. One day he decides to take his money downtown and go for it. When I first saw this movie, I was in the middle of a purgatory of paperwork. It took something like a month for all of my paperwork to go through and for all of the right committees to sign off before I was allowed anywhere near a trading pit. Jack just walks up to the front desk, asks the guard to grab an old friend and starts immediately trading with his visitor’s pass. This is roughly equivalent to walking into Yankee Stadium without a ticket and attempting to bat clean up for the visiting team in that day’s game.
Undaunted, Jack starts buying calls in his favorite stock convinced that a summer’s worth of research will somehow enrich him before his visitor’s pass expires at the end of the day. Not only is that unlikely, but for a trading whiz, Jack does it in about the stupidest and least logical way possible. The other traders look at each other quizzically. “Why is he buying this crap?” they ponder aloud nearly as one. Time begins to run, but it looks like Jack is in trouble. His stock is sitting there like a dead cow. Suddenly out of nowhere though Jack’s stock starts to rise precipitously. Soon it’s up a whole two dollars or so and Jack decides to cash out his trades. Kevin must be a genius if his a whole summer of research could allow him to know that a certain stock was likely to up tick two whole dollars between eleven and twelve o’clock one otherwise uneventful Thursday. I can only compare this to the likelihood of Gary Coleman someday having as many sexual experiences as Hugh Hefner.
Jack then wanders his way into the back room, and some exchange secretary starts to type out checks for him and all his friends. Amazing! Do even race tracks work this way?
I suppose this would all be excusable if even a moment of this were watch able or entertaining in anything, but a wreck on the side of the highway sort of fashion. If you want reality though, you should go watch that movie where Kevin plays an ex-college basketball star who journeys to Africa in search of the next Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Writer-Director Tom Donally went on to make a few films you most likely have never heard of and with any luck that will never cause you to lose a moments sleep.

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