The Wolf of Wall Street Review: A New Kind of Mobster

Photo Credit:

Martin Scorsese seems to be evolving a genre he perfected decades ago in his latest examination of debauchery and power.

Goodfellas is widely considered one of the director’s best films. I disagree. The characters didn’t really resonate with me. The Wolf of Wall Street feels like a post-recession update to the Goodfellas formula, as Scorsese is no longer trying to make us sympathize with gangsters, but stock brokers instead.

They are, after all, the modern villains of our age.

We follow the true story of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), a man who rises from rags to riches in the blink of an eye as he manipulates the stock market and builds an empire below him. The deeper he gets into the world of Wall Street, the more drugs he does and the more he loses his grasp on his life.

While DiCaprio is in fine form as Belfort, the script makes an early attempt at connecting him to us, but drops it once he makes it big. From that point on, we watch a three-hour downward spiral and at least 20 different variations of Belfort and his colleagues snorting cocaine. It’s exhausting.

Luckily, this is definitely one of Scorsese’s funnier films, with Jonah Hill’s performance surprisingly more in line with Superbad than Moneyball.

But ultimately, this thing is just too long and too repetitive. If we’re going to sit and watch a man do coke for three hours we should at least like him. The middle hour is the most guilty of treading water.

The ending does pick up decently enough, with Scorsese ending the film on a fascinating note that will leave audiences questioning his motives for some time.

But all the great things in The Wolf of Wall Street are so far spread out that the whole project just doesn’t come together. Had a stronger connection been established and the fat trimmed, this could have been another classic added to Scorsese’ resume. Instead, it’ll be one that scholars argue the merit of long after Scorsese is done making movies. Grade: B-

By Matt Dougherty

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *