Greed, power, and excess are shown at an all-time high in all of film history and in any other medium in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street (2013). Based on a true story, the film features the main man, Leonardo DiCaprio, as Jordan Belfort—initially a young, naïve stockbroker looking to make a living as a Wall Street stockbroker. After losing his job due to the infamous October 19th stock market crash of 1987, known as “Black Monday”, followed by a quick stint at a small, penny-stock firm, Belfort decides to start his own firm in the early 90s. This was the birth of “Stratton Oakmont”. With his counterpart, Donnie Azoff, played by Jonah Hill, Belfort runs a village of young, money-hungry brokers set out to defraud investors out of millions through a “pump-and-dump” scheme. On the back end, Belfort and Azoff secure the IPO of famous footwear brand, ‘Steve Madden’, while secretly owning 85% of the company. Basically… this is a big no, no! The illegal activity catches the eyes of the SEC and the FBI, while the ‘Strattonites’ throw their money at sex, drugs, and excitement—ultimately leading to Belfort’s downfall… or so we think.
At a runtime of three hours, the excess profanity, nudity, pill-popping, and cocaine hits (just to start off) never give you a chance to breathe. While being Scorsese’s longest film at that time (has since been beaten by The Irishman), there is never a dull moment. Seemingly impossible! Use the bathroom before a viewing of The Wolf of Wall Street, because there is not a single scene - - No, a single shot, you will want to miss! Scorsese does an impressive job at keeping an audience engaged like never before as the actors flaunt on screen. How can you not stay interested when there are 569 uses of the “F-Bomb”?! Does that seem excessive? Referred to as the “Cinema of Excess”, The Wolf of Wall Street is exactly that! And in its purest form! As we watch Jordan Belfort live a flashy life filled with thrilling parties, gorgeous women, and extravagant sports cars… we know this is evil at its core; or at least we should!
At face value, Jordan initially is not a bad guy. This is until “Wall Street swallowed [him] hole and shit [him] back out,” thus creating the anti-hero we are attracted to. A familiar approach Scorsese uses to connect an audience to a character. This time, the protagonist makes no attempt in believing what he is doing is right. He knows it is wrong. Unlike Henry Hill in Goodfellas (1990), Belfort knows almost from the start that he is a criminal, as he falls into the shadows of capitalistic corruption hidden on Wall Street … making no inner demons tear him away like seen before. SPOILER ALERT. Not really. Although Belfort ends up in prison, there is no great remorse to be felt. After a short time, he realizes he “was rich, and lives in a place where everything is for sale.” Think about it, he sold this blockbuster of a movie, didn’t he? Scorsese finalizes this piece with a look out into the audience during a final sales speech given by Belfort after being released from his short visit in prison. Three hours of barbaric excess, and the final shot remains on the audience at Belfort’s speech. This is a look into the nature of humans seeking advice from Belfort, wanting more and more. Who’s the excessive one now?
Story/Plot – 20/20 Direction – 20/20 Acting - 20/20
Cinematography – 20/20 Score/Soundtrack – 20/20
The Founder of @HennionProductions,