The movie sets Kevin Spacey, Demi Moore, Jeremy Irons, Stanley Tucci, and Simon Baker as the key players at an investment firm during the earliest hours of the 2008 financial crisis.
Tucci is the head of risk management for the mortgage trading desk, but gets laid-off in the first few minutes of the film. On his way out, he hands an unfinished project to a low-level risk analyst to find the problem. He finds it and it’s big. The holdings on the mortgage desk could lead to the downfall of the firm. that leaves it up to the firm’s employees on whether to save the firm at the risk of fleecing millions of investors.
Unlike Inside Job, Margin Call does not paint the characters as evil, mustache-twirling, robber barons. They’re humans staring at the face of a monumental choice. One choice is to hold and likely bankrupt the company. The other is to sell the garbage and likely being painted as a bad guy. They’re up all night thinking about the problem and trying to find a way out. Dawn comes and they all need to make choices.