Film Review: The Wolf of Wall Street

After losing his job as a Wall Street broker on Black Friday, Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) goes it on his own selling penny stocks. Together with his best friend Donnie (Jonah Hill), they become rich beyond their wildest dreams and embark on a lifestyle of utter debauchery.

There aren’t many directors out there who attract such attention when they release a new film. Normally, the focus is firmly on the actors starring in the film rather than the person calling the shots behind the camera. However, Martin Scorsese unleashes a new film, the world sits up and takes notice.

And once you’re sat up, The Wolf of Wall Street slaps you round the face, snorts cocaine out of your arse and doesn’t let you sit down again for its entire three-hour runtime. Those of a sensitive disposition should definitely go see something else.

Drugs, prostitutes, dwarf tossing, sex, drugs, bribery, sports cars, public masturbation, and drugs. Pretty much every kind of excess and debauchery is present and correct and Scorsese doesn’t hold any of it back. He rarely ever does.

It’s pretty easy to see that The Wolf of Wall Street owes more than a small debt to some of Scorsese’s previous work, such as Goodfellas and even The King of Comedy, in offering us somewhat of an anti-hero and charting their rise to success (or perceived success) and subsequent downfall. Some of Scorsese’s directorial choices, such as sweeping long takes also instantly recall many of his earlier films.

For much of the film, Belfort is a repugnant character, yet there’s something in there that draws you to him. His hedonistic lifestyle of excess is absurd and totally unsustainable, yet you still want to see which direction it’ll take next. It’s almost impossible to look away, and much of the credit for that has to go to Mr DiCaprio.

The Wolf of Wall Street marks Scorsese’s fifth collaboration with DiCaprio, and this could well be a career best for the actor. At the outset we see Jordan Belfort fresh faced and eager on his first day in Wall Street but it’s not long before he becomes arrogant and drunk with power, and this is where Leo’s acting really goes full throttle. An already renowned scene in which he takes some out-of-date drugs is physical comedy at its best that is reminiscent of Chaplin or Keaton.

But it’s not just Leo on top form; Jonah Hill also has to take a lot of credit for proving he can hack it in a (relatively) serious role. Donny has some of the best lines in the film and Hill delivers them perfectly. In other supporting roles, Margot Robbie and Matthew McConaughey also give excellent performances as Jordan’s wife Naomi and slightly psychotic Wall Street trader Mark Hanna respectively.

This is clearly a film of excess and that description extends to its runtime, too. It throws a lot at you and at three hours it does feel a little on the lengthy side. It’s never boring but some of the fat could be trimmed to no detriment to the film.

There’s no doubting that The Wolf of Wall Street is a somewhat shallow experience, but it doesn’t need to be anything else. It’is crass, debauched and misogynistic, but my word it’s a hell of a lot of fun.

Pros

  • Brilliant performances from DiCaprio and Hill
  • Laugh-out-loud funny
  • Huge amounts of fun
  • Margot Robbie

Cons

  • A little on the lengthy side

4 and a half pigeons

4.5/5 pigeons

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50 thoughts on “Film Review: The Wolf of Wall Street

  1. MojosWork says:

    Three hours? Too long for me to ever attempt to watch.

  2. CouchKurisu says:

    Nice review. I completely agree, the only downside to such a thrill ride was the run time, especially considering its relentless tone. Might be easier to watch on DVD back at home.

  3. Mark Walker says:

    We see eye-to-eye on this one Chris. A tad lengthy but a whole lot of fun. Nice review my man!

  4. davecrewe says:

    Nice review, though i think I loved this more than you; seen it twice and it never felt long to me. I think there’s a lot to think about – I certainly wouldn’t describe it as shallow, though it’s definitely very entertaining!

    • I think it was a little too long but it didn’t stop me thoroughly enjoying it! I do think it was somewhat shallow, I’m not sure there was really much depth to the characters, but I don’t think it really needed to be that deep. It was just deliriously entertaining as it was.

  5. jjames36 says:

    Great review. Agreed all around – this is very good.

    Even the length didn’t really bother me.

  6. keith7198 says:

    Nice review. I’m the minority guy. I found this to be a one-note annoyance.

  7. Popcorn Nights says:

    Nice review Chris. I’m hoping to see it soon. I don’t think I’m put off by the long running time but definitely won’t be taking any quaaludes beforehand.

  8. Nice review, Chris. The film is modern version of a Shakespearean tragedy. The shallowness and corruptness of a “king” and his mighty fall. Wonderful stuff. Hate to be a stickler, but haven’t they collaborated five times? Gangs NY,Shutter Is., Aviator, Departed, and now Wolf? I love this dynamic duo.

    • Gah, of course! I forgot about Shutter Island! Thanks for pointing that out, changed it now 🙂

      That’s really interesting about the whole Shakespearean thing, I hadn’t really considered that, but you’re bang on the money!

  9. thomasjford says:

    I thought after an hour that it was going to be a bit one note, and then I think the meeting on his boat with the FBI kind of swung it back round and convinced me that it was great. Not a patch on Goodfellas or Casino in my opinion, but still better than most directors could come up with.

  10. “And once you’re sat up, The Wolf of Wall Street slaps you round the face, snorts cocaine out of your arse and doesn’t let you sit down again for its entire three-hour runtime” LOL

    Great review, we’re in agreement on everything it seems, even though the runtime bothered me a little more. It was too long. But yeah, that quaaludes scene was definitely the highlight. HILARIOUS. DiCaprio was superb.

  11. CMrok93 says:

    Good review. Needed a trim here and there, but overall, a blast to sit-back, watch and just enjoy the hell out of. Even if it did take up most of my day when I saw it.

  12. Lol, snorts cocaine out your arse, too funny, my friend :). Love this film to death!! DiCaprio better pick up the Oscar! I wish Margot Robbie was nominated, she really deserved it. Awesome stuff, friend :).

  13. sati says:

    So glad you liked it and praised Hill! And Margot Robbie…God what a beauty. I love the whole cast, well maybe except for Chandler. Matt and Jean Dujardin were so funny and memorable.

  14. Dan says:

    Definitely a bit long…perhaps a more acceptable viewing time for that all important second-watch on blu-ray/VOD but surely another Best Director Oscar for Scorsese… And DiCaprio for Best Actor..?

  15. movierob says:

    great review Chris.

    Fun movie, but slightly overlong

  16. “A hell of a lot of fun”. Hell, if only more movies were like that. Still haven’t caught this yet, but I’m so looking forward to it. Absorbing read Chris.

  17. ckckred says:

    Nice review. I agree this goes on too long but it’s a lot of fun. I loved it even more a second viewing around.

  18. ruth says:

    I’d agree that despite the length of time it wasn’t boring. Overall though, it was not an experience I’d want to relive again. One time too many for me.

  19. Zoë says:

    I LOVED this movie and I am glad to see that you did, too. The runtime really didn’t bug me. Scorsese and DiCaprio really pulled out all the stops again to give us yet another fantastic piece of cinema!

  20. Great review! One of my favourites from the Oscars bunch.

  21. thycriticman says:

    You nailed it with one of your quotes. “A hell of a lot of fun”. I have seen a ton of both positive and negative reviews, but I find myself siding with the former. My grip was the length that started to drive me nuts in the third hour, but aside from that, I had a great time.

  22. Tom says:

    Superbly written Chris, mirrors pretty much what I felt about it. Buckets of fun. I still am amazed I haven’t gone back to theaters to see it, because with these guys that makes 6 hours well worth spending in a chair!!! 😀

  23. Off to see this tonight, good buddy. And despite the fact that I’m not generally a fan of attending the cinema, this review has certainly whet my wotsit!

  24. table9mutant says:

    Great review! Totally agree with what you’ve said. I had so much fun watching this one. : )

  25. Terry M. says:

    Nice overview…I keep thinking this is Good Fellas from the white collar persepctive…:)

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