Man's Depravity Knows No Bounds in The Wolf of Wall Street
- Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Release Date: December 25, 2013
Rating: R (for sequences of strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language throughout, and for some violence)
Run Time: 180 min.
Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey, Jon Favreau, Margot Robbie, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner
Editor’s Note: This review contains frank discussion of mature subject matter. Parents, please be advised and refer to our Cautions section below.
In true Martin Scorsese fashion, The Wolf of Wall Street is yet another demented tale about Man at his most dark and depraved.
Following in the grand tradition of The Departed, Shutter Island and Gangs of New York, The Wolf of Wall Street is also in desperate need of a good editor. Trouble is, if someone had actually bothered trimming the proverbial fat, there wouldn’t be much of a movie left.
Taking self-indulgence to an entirely new level (and no, that’s not a compliment), what remains is a soulless, revolting and wildly unfocused celebration of excess where nobody wins by watching.
No doubt, sometimes much can be learned from tales of men with severely misplaced priorities, but The Wolf of Wall Street isn't interested in serving as a morbid cautionary tale or even posing any meaningful questions. Even Gordon Gecko had brief moments of reflection while making his millions, but Scorsese apparently has no need for shades of gray here.
A big-budget affair that ends up coming across as a surprisingly rudimentary rag to riches story, Scorsese’s go-to leading man DiCaprio plays real-life stockbroker-turned-motivational-speaker Jordan Belfort. Before Belfort started making his millions by tricking cash-challenged folks into investing in worthless penny stocks, he was just another wide-eyed, wannabe Wall Street success story. Jordan believed if he just worked hard enough while learning the business, well, he’d be on the fast track to worldly wealth.
Of course, his naïve assumptions couldn’t be further from the truth, and Jordan’s first day on the job was revelatory to say the least. After being labeled "pond scum" by his boss on the first day of his entry level Wall Street gig, his boss's boss, Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyer’s Club) almost immediately takes a liking to the rookie's ambition and invites him to lunch.
Over a meal of martinis (and nothing else), he tells Jordan the secret to success: to rule the world, you have to forget about people altogether, take all you can and use the maximum amount of drugs and hookers just to make it through the day.
Needless to say, Jordan was a quick study. And just in case you didn't already get the sense that Jordan was a money-grubbing jerk, he looks straight at the camera and confirms the viewer's suspicions in a series of annoying voiceovers. Like the rest of the movie, Belfort's braggadocio wears thin in a hurry, and it's impossible to feel sorry for him when the party's over—not that the punishment will fit the crime, mind you.
Because once Scorsese inevitably switches from telling us how depraved Jordan is to showing us, you're left wishing he would've stuck with the voiceovers. In the course of three hours, every sort of debauchery is shown in gory, excessive detail. It's as if the filmmakers took it as a personal challenge to keep one-upping themselves in the nastiness department. From endless scenes of drug use to the de-valuing of women in more ways than we have room to list, The Wolf of Wall Street is never as clever or epic as it likes to think it is.
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