Bolstered by a dynamite cast, The Big Short has several converging story threads, beginning with a socially awkward hedge-fund manager named Dr. Michael Burry, who determines that the subprime mortgage industry is a bubble built on a slew of misguided practices that’s inevitably going to burst, so he invests his company’s available assets, totaling 1.3 billion dollars, to bet against them. Douchebag banker Jared Vennett, who also serves as the film’s narrator, catches wind of Burry’s activities and looks into it himself, and soon he also becomes convinced that CDO’s (collateralized debt obligations), a hodge-podge of mostly junk bonded loans, will result in the market eventually failing.
The only one who will partner with Vennett is a smaller hedge fund headed by Mark Baum, who, despite being initially skeptical, sees the iceberg headed toward the Titanic and is willing to make a major play, though his conscience is persistently troubling him. Meanwhile, a couple of small-time investors secure the expertise of a former financial strategist, Ben Wickert, to help them play with the big boys, hoping they’ll make a fortune. As the mortgage industry is considered the bedrock of the investment market, banks are all too happy to let these “suckers” bet against its success.