January 1, 2014

Movie Review: The Wolf of Wall Street

A new Martin Scorsese film is always something to anticipate. While I have not seen all and have not loved all, there is always going to be a level of attention and quality that you just don't find anywhere else. Add in the presence of Leonardo Dicaprio and you add another level to the production. So, when I learned of The Wolf of Wall Street, it jumped up my want to see list. The trailer looked pretty crazy and it depicted a movie that dives into the excess of late 80's greed mentality, taking Gordon Gecko's Wall Street to the next level, and all being based on a real person.



When I learned the movie was three hours long I was a little concerned how it would hold up. I needn't have been so concerned. This is one of the quickest three hours I have spent in a theater. Simply put, this movie is utterly and completely bonkers. It takes everything and amps it up to 11 and just lets it fly. Drugs, sex, and stocks, that is pretty much what this amounts to.


Scorsese throws you headlong into money-induced debauchery, where the greedy rich operate outside of normal society. Jordan Belfort (Dicaprio) is the ringleader making millions off of shady stock deals and stock manipulation, surrounded by folks whom he can mold in his own image, leading to an endless stream of drugs and prostitutes, a flaunting of lifestyle by those who feel above the law. It is a dizzying, alluring look into the heights that money can take you. However, it is not without its consequences. As high as they go, it just means the crash will be all that harder when everything comes crumbling down around him.

The Wolf of Wall Street has been accused of glorifying this sort of shady behavior and hedonistic lifestyle. If you believe that, well, you clearly weren't paying attention; besides, even if it did, it is a movie, it isn't real. Well, it is based on a real person, but I feel fairly certain that some of this stuff was amplified for cinematic effect, as I mentioned earlier, the actions in this movie are seriously bonkers.


This is not a great movie, but it is of undeniable quality and entertainment value. It is a familiar story of a man's rise and fall, nothing terribly new there. What makes it work is Scorsese's eye, which does not seem to be diminishing in the least, and the performances. Dicaprio delivers one of his finest performances in a role that seems designed to let him cut loose and take it right over the top. It is performance that a lesser actor would not have been able to pull off in a believable fashion. For as insane as the character is, Dicaprio stills makes us believe this guy is real.

While not great and owning a familiar message/tale, this is a supremely entertaining movie. It is mot a bad message by any stretch, and is told with a distinct style and flash. If you are offended by drug use, nudity, and general debauchery, steer clear. This movie is surprisingly funny, it has plenty of excellent performances aside from Dicaprio's (Jonah Hill, Rob Reiner, Kyle Chandler, Jon Bernthal, Margot Robbie (mmmmm...), Matthew McConaughey, among others). Certainly not for everyone, but hardly controversial no matter what media outlets want you to think.

Recommended.


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