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Michael Clayton (2007)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery  |  12 October 2007 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 126,734 users   Metascore: 82/100
Reviews: 361 user | 296 critic | 36 from

A law firm brings in its "fixer" to remedy the situation after a lawyer has a breakdown while representing a chemical company that he knows is guilty in a multi-billion dollar class action suit.



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Won 1 Oscar. Another 30 wins & 93 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Bridget Klein (voice)
Wai Chan ...
Player #1
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Walter (voice)


Michael Clayton, a high-priced law firm's fixer, leaves a late night poker game, gets a call to drive to Westchester, and watches his car blow up as he's taking an impromptu dawn walk through a field. Flash back four days. He owes a loan shark to cover his brother's debts (Michael's own gambling habits have left him virtually broke). His law firm is negotiating a high-stakes merger, and his firm's six year defense of a conglomerate's pesticide use is at risk when one of the firm's top litigators goes off his meds and puts the case in jeopardy. While Michael is trying to fix things someone decides to kill him. Who? Meanwhile his son summarizes the plot of a dark fantasy novel. Written by <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

law | fixer | law firm | debt | attorney | See All (239) »


The truth is what he makes it. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language including some sexual dialogue | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

12 October 2007 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Avukat  »

Box Office


$25,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£601,196 (UK) (28 September 2007)


$49,024,969 (USA) (14 March 2008)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Both George Clooney and Michael O'Keefe played boyfriends of Laurie Metcalf on Roseanne (1988). See more »


It is stated that Michael started with the firm in 1990, and has been with them for 17 years, making the year 2007 as expected. His birthday is also described as being in 1959, but at another point while speaking to Marty he reflects on his state in life and claims to be 45 years old - he should be 47 or 48. He may, however, be exaggerating his youth. See more »


[first lines]
Arthur Edens: Michael. Dear Michael. Of course it's you, who else could they send, who else could be trusted? I... I know it's a long way and you're ready to go to work... all I'm saying is wait, just wait, just-just-just... please hear me out because this is not an episode, relapse, fuck-up, it's... I'm begging you Michael. I'm begging you. Try and make believe this is not just madness because this is not just madness. Two weeks ago I came out of the building, okay, I'm running across Sixth ...
See more »


Referenced in 30 Rock: Sandwich Day (2008) See more »


Cadence Kickoff
Written by Bert Ferntheil
Provided by APM Music
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Michael Clayton a different kind of thriller
8 December 2007 | by (Gainesville, Florida) – See all my reviews

Michael Clayton is not your typical legal thriller. Oh, it has most of the standard trappings of one: double-crossing, shady back room deals, and a guilty client. But in the case of Michael Clayton, the film focuses most of its attention on the questionable moral quagmire of working for guilty clients, living your life protecting those who you can't help but find reprehensible, wanting to get out, but finding you are good at it and that is where your superiors want you. Michael Clayton isn't a revelatory film, but it is a smart one that deals in the grey world that we all live in, not the black and white one legal films are usually about.

The central character is Michael Clayton (George Clooney), a "fixer" at a major Manhattan law firm. His job entails him cleaning up other's messes, not litigating in a court room. He hates the work, but the senior partner at the firm, Marty Bach (Sydney Pollack), wants him to stay in the job because he has a talent for it. Things are not rosy for Michael right now: his addict brother has run a business venture that Michael was a partner in into the ground, leaving Michael with thousands of dollars in debt; his relationship with his ex-wife is on the rocks, and into this environment comes a whole new caliber of problem: Michael's friend, and fellow attorney, Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson), who is a lead attorney for a major case for the firm involving U/North, a huge, multifaceted corporation, has discovered evidence damning to U/North, and has also, seemingly, lost his senses.

Arthur begins plotting to publicly expose U/North with this evidence, thereby destroying them, something that U/North's lead corporate attorney, Karen Crowder (Tilda Swinton), cannot allow. Michael is called in to help calm Arthur and bring the situation under control, but it becomes quickly obvious that Arthur cannot be reigned in, and Karen begins looking at far more dire methods of containment.

When you walk into Michael Clayton, you need to be prepared for a limited amount of action, and a fair amount of talk. It is a film about words and far less exciting events than found in many movies. Michael Clayton is also not the most straightforwardly plotted film. A great deal of information is suggested through inference and requires the full attention of the audience. But Michael Clayton is hardly boring. It delves into the decisions that individuals make when their livelihood depends on living in a moral quagmire. Michael is a man who is concerned about making sure that he can make the payments on a huge debt and dealing with the sometimes annoying and reprehensible people that the law firm provides its services to. Arthur is in a similar situation, but he can no longer live with himself and the protection of clients who are obviously guilty. It is debatable whether Arthur is mentally unhinged, or simply woken up to the reality of his actions and what they mean in the grander scheme of things.

Michael Clayton is the directorial debut of Tony Gilroy, a longtime Hollywood screenwriter, who crafts a film that manages to keep you involved like a good thriller without providing many of the requisite elements: chases, shootouts and fisticuffs. Michael Clayton is a thriller that works at a slower pace, but still manages to enthrall with its developments. Critical to the film's success is its performances. George Clooney gives us a Michael who feels many aspects of his world closing around him and tries to keep all the balls in the air. Tom Wilkinson's turn as Arthur is that of a man who has experienced an epiphany, seeing the world like a newborn baby. Finally, Tilda Swinton's Karen Crowder is a woman who is all about appearance (one of her first scenes reveals her practicing a speech so that it will appear perfect) and ensuring that no one rocks the boat of U/North. She has sold her soul to the devil and will do anything to keep the company intact.

Michael Clayton is certainly not everyone's cup of tea. It requires a strong attention span and a willingness to not have everything spelled out for you. If you can provide that, then it is a film experience that will provide some rewards.

259 of 282 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Clayton's assassination attempt.. gangsta_toes
If you could sum up the plot in one word... zekat59
One of the best scenes in cinema...ever discmann262
Is there aother movie like this one? Lundegaard-1
Clooney's Acting During the Credits MrMantooth
clayton 'fixing' the hit and run peece101
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