Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
Directed by: Martin Scorsese (“The Departed,” “Hugo”)
Written by: Terence Winter (“Get Rich or Die Tryin’”)
As Jordan Belfort, the so-called Wolf of Wall Street, Leonardo DiCaprio asks the question we’re all thinking when it comes to the complicated maneuverings of Wall Street: “Was all this legal? Absolutely not!”
Directed in full “Goodfellas”-mode by Martin Scorsese, “The Wolf of Wall Street” charts the true-life meteoric rise and fall of Belfort and his firm, Stratton Oakmont, during the ‘80s and ‘90s. With his best friend Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill) at his side, Jordan runs a years-long scam involving selling penny stocks to unsuspecting average citizens at a heavy commission, knowing full well the shares are garbage from go-nowhere companies based out of garages and basements. As his personal wealth grows, Jordan slides falls further and further down a rabbit hole of drugs, prostitutes, sex, and even more drugs. When the firm finally grows large enough to warrant the attention of a straight-arrow FBI agent (Kyle Chandler), Jordan’s life begins to unravel.
At just under three hours long, “The Wolf of Wall Street” could have easily overstayed its welcome, but a fun script from Terence Winter and hilarious performances from DiCaprio and Hill keep things interesting. Winter, an HBO veteran who served as a writer on “The Sopranos” and creator of “Boardwalk Empire,” turns in another Tony Soprano/Nucky Thompson-style likeable anti-hero in Jordan that the audience can’t help but pull for in the early going—in spite of all the horrible things we see him do.
Scorsese slips into this filmmaking style—“Wolf” is basically a spiritual sequel to both “Goodfellas” and “Casino”–like it’s a well-worn shoe. No one does it better, and with a game DiCaprio in front of the lens, there’s an awful lot to like about this film.