Review: THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (2013) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Thursday, 9 January 2014


THE WOLF OF WALL STREET is unnecessarily overlong and lacked the sustainable energy that characterised some of Martin Scorsese's best works, but it's a reasonably entertaining movie with Leonardo DiCaprio's manic performance on the loose.

After going 360-degree with the unexpected children's fantasy, HUGO in 2011, it's good to see director Martin Scorsese has finally back to his familiar R-rated territory with THE WOLF OF WALL STREET. Already a highly controversial movie upon its release last Christmas in the US due to its boundaries-pushing R rating (for the depiction of sex, drugs and profanity), it's no surprise that THE WOLF OF WALL STREET failed to pass our local censorship board to be shown in Malaysian cinemas.

Based on the Jordan Belfort's memoir of the same name, the movie charts the rise and fall of 22-year-old Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) who first started out as a rookie Wall Street stockbroker in 1987. On his first day at the firm, his boss, Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey) already sees potential in him and eventually mentors him to become a successful stockbroker. It all started out well for Jordan until the unexpected Black Monday (the 1987 stock-market crash) cost him his job. Jordan moves on and gets a new job selling penny stocks in Long Island, at which he manages to make a fortune out of it. Then one day, he meets Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill) and quickly becomes partners after he decides to open his own brokerage firm called Stratton Oakmont. Soon he recruits more people to work for him and he gets richer as the time goes by. With so much money, drugs and sex at his disposal, it doesn't take long before FBI Agent Patrick Denham (Kyle Chandler) begins to investigate around Stratton Oakmont's illegal practices.
Martin Scorsese's direction is as energetic and cinematic as always. He really amazes me that even at his senior age of 71, he still got what it takes to make a vibrant cinema (even though he doesn't reach the same creative peak he had in GOODFELLAS, CASINO or even THE DEPARTED). From the technical standpoint, everything here is aces with Rodrigo Prieto's lively camerawork (e.g. freeze-frame, slow-motion, fast dollies) worth the special mention.

Collaborating with Scorsese for the fifth time since GANGS OF NEW YORK (2002), Leonardo DiCaprio gives a live-wire performance as Jordan Belfort. Here, he combines the cocky swagger of Michael Douglas's Oscar-winning performance of Gordon Gekko in WALL STREET (1987) with a dash of Alec Baldwin's Blake character in GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS (1992), and even a little of Robert De Niro-style of acting methods. But it was the funny side of him that viewers rarely seen from the typically-tense DiCaprio he is always known for. He certainly knows how to let loose and have fun with his character. He even pushes his comical edge to the limit that you have to see it for yourself.

The supporting actors, ranging from Jonah Hill's strong support as Jordan's right-hand man Donnie Azoff to Kyle Chandler's effective performance as FBI Agent Patrick Denham (with his particular memorable scene involving him and Jordan at a yacht), are downright captivating. Last but not least is the breakthrough performance by 23-year-old beauty Margot Robbie as Jordan's trophy wife, Naomi. Not only she's strikingly hot and beautiful, she manages to stand on her own against DiCaprio.

The long, comical set-piece involving Jordan overdoses a handful of Quaaludes (a type of sedative-hypnotic drug), at which his entire body becomes numb and unable to speak properly. During that particular scene, he tries to crawl his way out of the building and back to his car to head home. Think Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton or even Jim Carrey and you'll get the picture.

At three hours long, the movie is undeniably excessive to a breaking point. Not surprisingly, all the manic energy that Scorsese is trying so hard to push forward, begins to wear out its welcome. Then there's Terence Winter's adapted screenplay which feels strangely monotonous. For instance, does the movie have to be so redundant by including repetitive scenes of Jordan and his people snorting cocaine and having sex with lots of endless naked women like nobody's business?

THE WOLF OF WALL STREET is far from Scorsese's best works, but it's a worthwhile entertainment for those who wanted to see the lighter side of him.

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