|2013 rating: *1/2|
The same can be said of Leonardo DiCaprio’s energetic performance in THE WOLF OF WALL STREET, providing intense pep-rally speeches without any real games to follow: In fact the narration by DiCaprio’s con artist stockbroker Jordan Belfort gives just about everything away. Imagine if, during the first minute of GOODFELLAS, Ray Liotta described the mafia as a bunch of worthless, lowlife, backstabbing killers: What's left to learn and experience?
Based on a true story centering on unapologetic greed and making gross amounts of money, director Martin Scorsese provides so much flash there’s very little substance, despite several attempts for a worthwhile baseline...
When Belfort starts his career as a low-end stockbroker, he almost suffers a necessary hunger before getting a quick bellyful of other people's money. Instead, right off the bat, his boss (Matthew McConaughey) unveils the nefarious sleight-of-hand before it’s even played out. And later on, as Belfort’s team of shady brokers join his own Wall Street corporation, with the exception of sidekick Donnie Azoff, played by A-list sidekick Jonah Hill, no one… not even Belfort’s gorgeous trophy wife… amounts to anything beyond wallpaper.
One scene works the best: when a straight-laced FBI agent meets with Belfort on his yacht, there’s a beginning, middle and end to a somewhat intriguing conversation. Here we finally learn what our antihero's up against. Perhaps an example of an “honest stockbroker," one not targeted by the feds, would make us learn more about what makes Belfort particularly crooked. Besides an immense rockstar appetite for women and drugs, we never get past the man’s perpetual debauchery.
When Belfort and Donnie take too many Quaaludes there’s a surreal twenty minutes that seemed like part of another movie… perhaps LESS THAN ZERO if written by a sixth grader… Which is nothing compared to a storm-riding yacht sequence that should have ended like Leo’s other ship movie, sparing us an extra half-hour...
Bringing us back to the Motivational Speaker concept: If DiCaprio’s best moments involve convincing a group of born cheaters they’d be better off rich and dishonest, he’s merely preaching to the choir. The rest of us might need a reason to trust this jovially narcissistic, intentionally likable shyster before buying three long hours of his crap.