A former Wall Street broker realises that pumping junk (penny) stock is very lucrative and turns a small cottage industry into something a lot bigger. Soon crossing white lines even he can see.
I am generally a fan of Martin Scorsese to the point of often wanting to watch his movies more than once. Sometimes even owning. He has made some fantastic films giving some real depth and insight into off-beats, street people and criminals. There isn't a director working today who he hasn't educated. Indeed quality hard-edged TV shows like The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire are almost based on his templates, look and ideas.
(Can you imagine these shows even being made if he had died at birth?)
And yet, and yet, the man has a serious flaw: he struggles to be moral. On film at least. He seems on the side of the conman, the crook and the mafioso. The Joe Public who get crushed under their mighty wheels are of little interest to him. Comedy fodder. Police/law enforcement who stop them (or at least try) dull and low paid. Sometimes corrupt, inefficient and devious. At other times ignored completely or treated as last-reel extras.
Here he brings all his faults to the table and then some. Indeed almost seems to be underlining them. The FBI are full of subway riding drones in cheap brown suits and non matching ties.. Dry humoured nasty people who want to end the party (all bought with stolen money) early. There only advantage - over their quarry - being not risking sleeping six inches from a toilet seat.
Although few have noticed, this film has been shot before as "Boiler Room." A passable Vin Diesel number. So little has this film being seen that some scenes are almost copies of it! Indeed copies with a bit bigger budget. When you have the budget the camera can swoop and roll through a million extras - all acting their little socks off. Here everyone acts like they are on The Price is Right, even when they are work!
(Do the tits-out extras get extra pay? Hope so. Humiliation should come with compensation.)
Excess? I can spot it in small doses. It doesn't need to be repeated over and over again until I wonder if I have sat on the remote control and jumped back two chapters. Voice-over too. In case you have gone blind during the movie. It stops just short of flashing subtitles pointing out that what we are watching is immoral or illegal.
But wait and hold on, it does entertain and does make you laugh. Guilty laughs, but laughs (of the out-loud variety) are not common with me. A lot of it is probably true as well. Or true-ish. Clearly MS doesn't know how a helicopter is actually flown, so why not employ somebody who does?
DiCaprio is very good in the central role of Jordan Belfort. Best acting yet and let's be frank his face has been his fortune so far. Clearly over-the-top and silly at times, but some real acting wrinkles. It is not him on the stunts though, the double is too tall to be him and even in the "daring" sex scenes we never see candle wax on his back. Only that of the double.
I love Jonah Hill (Donnie in the the film). He is a brilliant comic actor. He just has it. Never afraid to make a fool of himself, he does a wonderful performance as best friend and co-conspirator. Not consistent though, stupid one minute smart the next. I wonder if he is going to go down the Jack Black route and get his own vehicles? Second wife Naomi (played by Aussie Margot Robbie) is hot in a Playboy way and seems appropriate for the role, but you don't like her character much. Just another spoilt mercenary happy to join the bandwagon without asking too many questions. Unlike his first (screen) wife. Whether Robbie is going on to anything else is open to question. Probably turn up in costume in one of those superhero movies they are always making. Has the build for it.
In the old 40's Warner Brothers days the film ended with the crook dead or in jail. Here there is another scene to underline the bit about Scorsese being basically immoral. And maybe so if the audience if the IMDb rating is correct. Maybe we are all going to hell laughing.
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