The epic, excessive life of notorious Wall Street huckster Jordan Belfort got epic, excessive cinematic treatment by one of the most epic, excessive of directors, Martin Scorsese, in The Wolf Of Wall Street. Leonardo DiCaprio was completely and utterly on fire from frame-one, giving it his all in every sense of the phrase. It’s also, most crucially and surprisingly, the funniest and loosest he’s ever been on screen, revealing new, comedic sides to his personality. On the complete opposite side of things, the enormously gifted comedic actor Jonah Hill again severely impressed in a dramatic role after doing stellar work in Cyrus and Moneyball, while also landing some of the heartiest laughs in this blackest of comedies. Littered with tons of familiar faces, spot-on character work, and the alarming presence of alluring Australian bombshell Margot Robbie (doing a terrific New Joisey accent, it must be noted), The Wolf of Wall Street races through its three-hour running time like an out of control freight train being driven by a lunatic mad-man.
No movie since Terry Gilliam’s hedonistic tour de force of drug-fueled shenanigans Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas has embraced on-screen drug-use for both dark humor and for appalling dramatic effect the way The Wolf of Wall Street did. But that’s why Scorsese continues to be the most important, vital voice in modern cinema – he’s always up to a challenge, always pushing the limits, always going for the filmic jugular. Along with the gifted screenwriter Terrence Winter, they painted a sprawling, troubling portrait of a morally decaying society – the American dream run amok, perverted and corrupted by ultra-success and zero consequences. And the last shot of the film – possibly the best single shot of its year – casually and brilliantly indicts everyone, not just the despicable characters in the film and the zombie-eyed audience members that Belfort is preaching too at his seminar, but anyone who was in the audience or watching at home who has missed the point of this outrageous and masterful piece of storytelling. And one last thing: Never call Rob Reiner during The Equalizer!