The Wolf of Wall Street Review

For his latest film, The Wolf of Wall Street, Martin Scorsese adheres to the old adage: ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. The diminutive maestro has been cranking out epic crime films for the past forty years. The Wolf of Wall Street is draped in debauchery and proudly indulges in oodles of sex, drugs and naughtiness whilst still acting as a searing indictment of what damage Wall Street traders were able to do throughout the late 80s and into the 90s. This is the kind of film which will either make you hate corporate corruption or go out and buy some shares.

Based upon Jordan Belfort’s autobiography of the same name, the film tracks his rise to prominence off the back of some ingenious yet shady loopholes within the stock market. On the way up the corporate food chain, Belfort brings along his closest friends Donnie (Jonah Hill), Brad (Jon Bernthal), Chester (Kenneth Choi) and Nicky (P. J Byrne), all good New Jersey boys who blindly follow the charismatic Belfort through thick and thin. Belfort and his crack team of knuckleheads take Wall Street by force with a unique sales technique resulting in an unorthodox workplace culture. It’s not long after Belfort starts to make his mark that his name ends up across the desk of F.B.I agent Patrick Denham (Kyle Chandler). The levels of depravity left me a little gobsmacked at times, but much like a car accident I couldn’t look away from, I needed to see where the absurdity would take us and I was never disappointed. Scorsese never shows us what happens to the victims of the group’s misdeeds, which keeps the tone fairly light.

From beginning to end, Leonardo DiCaprio owns every inch of this film. At times it looks as if he’s struggling to contain his sheer joy at what he’s doing on screen. I’ve long admired his work but he tends to have an air of seriousness about him, like he’s forgotten to have fun. In this film, he’s all fun, especially several scenes of pure physical comedy. I don’t wish to spoil anything except to say, the Quaaludes scene … you’ll know it when it happens. Brilliant. Jonah Hill is great as Belfort’s right hand man: think a portly Joe Pesci minus the usual Scorsese-injected psychotic tendencies. Hill is a very funny man, but it’s the moments of sincerity that he shares with DiCaprio that really impressed me. Margot Robbie shines in a tricky performance, where she carries the burden of being an object of sexual desire whilst being an emotional barometer for how low Belfort ultimately sinks. Once the fanfare for this film has passed, I really hope she is remembered for her promising acting chops and not just for her scenes in the buff. Kyle Chandler and Rob Reiner are great in their supporting roles. Matthew McConaughey gets approximately four minutes screen time but will leave you begging for more. 

The film weighs in two minutes shy of three hours, but don’t let this dissuade you from seeing it. The films clips along at such a frantic pace you’ll hardly notice it. I wish more directors had the guts to tackle the longer-arcing story lines. Sadly it feels like it’s a hallmark of a bygone era.

This is comedy and not to be taken too seriously. It lampoons the ridiculously adolescent behaviour of some infamous Wall Street traders and the culture of greed which allowed them to exist. It’s an epic on par with Casino and Goodfellas and well worth checking out. The Wolf of Wall Street hits cinemas this Thursday, if you see the film and agree or disagree with my thoughts feel free to drop a line below.

- Stu


  1. Along with its three-hour runtime, this baggy plotting may make Wolf a somewhat harder sell to audiences but it's a deeper movie than The Departed -- among the best that Scorsese has made.

    Plenty of Fish Review


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