Oscar winners Jared Leto and Anne Hathaway are the star attractions that will keep you coming back to "WeCrashed," a limited series (is eight hours really limited?) now streaming on Apple TV+. You'll go binge-wild over this cautionary tale about the perils of sustaining a startup -- in this case the communal workplace phenom WeWork -- against the pressures of success and greed.
Just as everything flamed out for Uber founder Travis Kalanick (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) in "Super-Pumped," fake German heiress Anna Delvey (Julia Garner) in "Inventing Anna" and self-proclaimed blood specialist Elizabeth Holmes (Amanda Seyfried) in "The Dropout," failure is always just one wrong move away for the team behind WeWork.
The magnetic Leto, sporting an Israeli accent as outrageous as the Italian he spouted in "House of Gucci," excels as Adam Neumann, a fledgling entrepreneur who founded WeWork with Miguel McKelvey (Kyle Marvin) in 2010 only to be ousted nine years later for, well, you'll see.
Hathaway plays Adam's wife, Rebekah, who is constantly trying to get out from under Adam's shadow and the fame of her actress cousin Gwyneth Paltrow. Even on her wedding day to Adam, Rebekah has to tell disappointed guests, "Gwyneth is not coming."
Raised on a kibbutz, Adam envisions WeWork as a similar community experience to the one he experienced in his native Tel Aviv. Why shouldn't participants rent work space and share ideas in refreshment and recreation areas meant to bring them together like a family?
Although both Neumanns suffer from unchecked hubris, the long-haired, silver-tongued Adam has a knack for talking investors out of their money even when he runs around barefoot in meetings, doing drugs and tequila shots and substituting bravado for a business plan. Crazy, we're told repeatedly in this gallingly repetitive series, is the best shortcut to a jackpot.
Maybe so, but there are times when you'll want to join the fed-up banker, vividly played by O-T Fagbenle, in forcing a reality check on swaggering Adam and his delusional wife, a "student of life" who plans to serve only vegan at WeWork, fire those who laugh at her and open a school to teach serial entrepreneurship to 5-year-olds while raising the consciousness of the world.
There are times when the satire of "WeCrashed" goes over the top into farce. Yet Leto and especially Hathaway, who finds the pain roiling under Rebekah's chilling calm, never lose sight of the humanity of the narcissists they're playing. And there is real bite in the scenes in which Adam and Rebekah must face the harsh consequences of their elitist actions.
Even when WeWork, known as "the $47 billion unicorn" for its impossible success despite losing more revenue than it takes in, finally crashes from Neumann mismanagement, Adam and Rebekah still leave as billionaires while their underpaid employees go home with nothing.
Selfishness on such an epic scale makes it difficult to evoke sympathy for the so-called "love story" of Adam and Rebekah that "WeCrashed" is selling. And yet the egotism inherent in the scams that dot our financial and political landscape provides a teachable lesson.
Even when "WeCrashed" feels like a terrific two-hour movie trapped in a meandering miniseries, Leto and Hathaway keep the fireworks sparking. In this portrait of fantasists who come to believe their own lies, "WeCrashed" indicts the art of the con in ways that extend far beyond the tech bubble. As a wake-up call, it couldn't be more timely and relevant.