‘Wolf’: Being bad at its very best

By on January 11, 2014
Margot Robbie and Leonardo Dicaprio push the envelope with ffearless performances of unethical behavior in Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf on Wall Street”. The film chronicles the rise and fall of real-life stockbroker Jordan Belfort. Photo Courtesy of Red Granite Pictures.

The latest from famed director Martin Scorsese, “The Wolf of Wall Street” also marks his fifth collaboration with his frequent leading man Leonardo DiCaprio, who is front and center on this rollicking ride through the rise and fall of the stock market.

Dicaprio plays real-life stockbroker Jordan Belfort, who made it big in the 90s before the FBI brought him and his entire operation down.

I typically don’t enjoy movies like this, usually odes to arrogant guys that rip people off and live large on money they didn’t earn (see also “The Social Network,” and “Wall Street” movies).

These films are usually well made, but ultimately, stories about the rich behaving badly don’t really do it for me. However, every once in a blue moon,  a movie like “The War of the Roses” or “Cruel Intentions” will stand out from its genre by  allowing some genuinely  twisted and intriguing takes on the scheming rich.

Add to that list “The Wolf of Wall Street,” which is Scorsese’s most energetic effort in years.

Warning: Almost all people in this movie are irredeemably awful.

This is Scorsese at his most unhinged and it suits him.

Due to the subject matter and the three hour running time, I was more than a little skeptical going in. However, the film easily kept my attention

It’s entertaining to see Belfort start firmly at the middle as a promising Wall Street broker being trained by Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey) to live life to the fullest and take no prisoners.

As the bottom  falls out in the Stock Market crash, Belfort has  to rebuild from the ground up, and it’s absolutely fascinating to watch the fall of the empire he builds from scratch.

Granted, the film sags a bit here and there as one endless party bleeds into another. However, many of these party scenes hold some of the film’s most memorable and entertaining incidents.

For instance, an extended interlude involving Belfort and his right-hand man, Donnie (Jonah Hill) taking some expired pills that kick in at the worst possible time is hilarious .

The cast is great- duh- and relative newcomer Margot Robbie nails her breakthrough role as the girl that steals DiCaprio’s heart.

It’s a star-making performance for Robbie and a pretty fearless one at that.

Scorsese really pushes the envelope here in a way few filmmakers of his caliber dare to do at this stage of their career, and it’s pretty wondrous to behold.

Some of the extremely graphic sex and nudity and language may turn some people off- the film very nearly got an X-rating, and broke the record for the most utterances of the “F”-word in a film, ever.

At the screening I attended, there were even some walk-outs. But for those who know what they’re getting into, it’s exactly what you hope it would be, and then some.

I’m going to give this one an A for effort and execution alike.

Well done!

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About Mark Trammell

Mark Trammell is the resident entertainment critic at UAB, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he is also a Graduate Student and does a vid-cast movie review show. He is a life-long fan of films and has a pretty whacked-out, all-over-the-place movie collection that would give most sane people pause. He loves horror movies and Disney flicks and isn't entirely sure there is a difference. He one day hopes to put his money where his mouth is and inflict his own perverse vision on society, entirely so that he can tell people who ask: "If you think you can do better, why don't you make a movie yourself?" to shut up.
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