Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street Review – The rise and fall of Bernie Madoff

By Romey Norton
Published: January 2, 2023 (Last updated: March 13, 2024)
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This is the Wild West of Wall Street. A scam that lasted decades, destroying the lives of thousands of people, the story of Bernie Madoff is extraordinary and worth watching.

We review the Netflix true crime documentary series Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street, which will be released on January 4, 2023.

Who doesn’t love a smooth criminal? Con artists usually have a suave charm which makes them hard to hate, and easy to admire. These masters of manipulation have to be smart, cunning, and extremely brave to pull off the scams they do. They also have to be heartless; to be able to hurt and scam innocent people for their personal gain. However, there is something very entertaining about watching a master at work, and the reasons why they fraud people. Here, that’s still one of the biggest questions: Why did he do it? From the prolific filmmaker Joe Berlinger (Conversations with a Killer, Crime Scene, and Brother’s Keeper), audiences can now indulge in the fascinating docuseries Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street.

Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street review and plot summary

Over four one-hour-long episodes, audiences are taken on a journey through the unique story of Bernie Madoff, a Wall Street financier who created a $64 Billion dollar Ponzi scheme, one of the biggest and most dramatic in the whole of U.S History. In this docuseries we delve into the career and fortune of Madoff, and how his scheme shattered the lives of countless individual investors who had placed their trust in the Wall Street statesman. There’s one thing about losing investments, but here people lost their homes, their livelihoods, and their dignity. 

This docuseries gives audiences unique interviews with whistle-blowers, employees, investigators, Madoff’s victims, and never-before-seen video depositions of Madoff himself, all of which give detailed and honest accounts of what happened. It’s interesting to see the development of Wall Street and its dramatic changes throughout the years, the implementation of computers, and how the demand grew for more and more stocks and shares. Buying and selling stocks is something we all want to get involved in, due to the heavy profits we see that can come from it, but in the background, there is so much more going on, and it’s definitely a unique world that Madoff was able to control, manipulate and play to his advantage. 

Madoff is described as the “God of Finance”, a “financial sociopath” and my personal favorite, “financial serial killer”. It is clear that people are disgusted with what he did. The intense passion with which they talk about him ranges from awe and admiration to complete contempt. Basically, for all his talk and actions, Madoff never made any trades, it was all a Ponzi scheme (like borrowing from Peter to pay Paul and back and forth). These fictitious trades caused mass chaos for people across the world. As he was a Jewish man, he played with his Jewish community, which people couldn’t believe he would betray one of his own, but it wasn’t just the Jewish community, it was everyone and anyone. 

Like all good investigative documentaries we have a detailed breakdown of how they unraveled and eventually caught Madoff. He was investigated multiple times, by multiple organizations and people. Madoff was helped by another clever con artist, Frank DiPascali, who helped him cover up his fraud, in rather brilliant ways. Their stagecraft reassured all investors, regulators, and clients that everything was fine, even though it evidently was not. It’s hard to distance yourself from the victims, as this could be any of us, and whilst people received bailouts, none of the victims did. 

The fraud went on for decades, and eventually, as Madoff began to lose control and lose money, at the age of 70 he was arrested by the FBI. He went to prison for his crimes and died in prison at the age of 82. The hatred for this man runs so deep that his family refuses to collect his ashes, so sadly they’re out there somewhere.

Is Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street on Netflix any good?

Yes, this documentary is one to add to your list. From delving into Madoff’s rise from humble beginnings to becoming one of the most influential power brokers on Wall Street, to using and abusing his status and power, this series is full of excitement, but it’s also very emotional for the victims of Madoff, including his family. Their side of the story is very sad and shocking. The main question and what causes such anger and disbelief is why he did this. How he could betray and hurt so many people? From watching the documentary, in my opinion, it was all about maintaining face. He started and he liked being the king of Wall Street, having that title, that reputation. It was about ego, about being the best and there was nothing that was going to stop that for Madoff.

What did you think of the Netflix true crime documentary series Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street? Comment below.

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