With stunning clarity considering the density of the material and the tendency for excessive jargon, Adam McKay’s phenomenally entertaining dramatization of the 2008 financial collapse shouldn’t be entertaining but it is. All kidding aside, this is a massively fucked up film that details how a group of people got extremely rich while so many were going totally bust, but because of McKay’s zesty filmmaking style, the narrative never gets bogged down in hard to understand plotting or surrounded by characters who we can’t relate too. This is an ensemble in the truest sense of the word, with each major actor doing excellent and generous work, with each performance feeding into the next, which helps to create a full blown tapestry of men pushed to their limits. Christian Bale is low-key awesome here, totally introverted as a genius money man, getting the chance for a number of quietly stellar moments. Steve Carrell is the angry conscience of the piece, representing the frustrations of the common person while also seeing the inner workings of a corrupt system, and after his brilliant work in Foxcatcher, represents another dramatic homerun for him as a dramatic actor. Ryan Gosling is the amoral trickster, and he’s pure energy and comic fizz, getting the film’s single biggest laugh during a small tour de force sequence inside of a men’s room, and Brad Pitt steals a few scenes as the sagacious insider who has become an outsider. All of the familiar faces in the deep supporting cast are terrific, and everyone is used to maximum effect via the long lens cinematography by Barry Ackroyd (United 93, The Wind that Shakes the Barley), who brings his customarily jittery shooting style to the proceedings, always searching and grasping for off the cuff moments, which appropriately sets the tense mood. When combined with the judicious and extremely sharp editing by Hank Corwin, it’s no surprise that the film keeps the pace of a rushing locomotive, yet never at the expense of coherence or intelligence. The numerous instances of the breaking of the fourth wall are smart and well timed, hilariously using real life celebrities in an effort to help the audience better understand some of the more shadowy and arcane bits of information. McKay has taken a HUGE step up with this film as a storyteller and filmmaker, after repeatedly proving to be one of the best directors of studio comedies over the last 15 years (his blockbuster resume includes Anchorman, Talladega Nights, Step Brothers, and The Other Guys). This is his crowning achievement thus far, a piece of topical entertainment that is as enraged as it is playful. It’s one of the best films of 2015. And last but certainly not least, massive Tracy Letts POWER.