Tuesday, March 25, 2008

REVIEW: Michael Clayton

Michael Clayton

Year: 2007
Director: Tony Gilroy
Starring: George Clooney, Tom Wilkinson, Michael O'Keefe, Sydney Pollack, Tilda Swinton
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
MPAA: Rated R

Michael Clayton is another one of those movies that come along in time for the Oscars and get nominated for some awards. When this film first hit theaters, I was alittle skeptical because I was busy watching No Country for Old Men and didn't want to give Michael Clayton a chance. Also the trailer seemed like another thriller that looked cool to watch, but definitely not something that's going to get an Oscar. This however wasn't exactly the case since Michael Clayton grossed an estimated $88 million worldwide on a mear budget of $25 million. I eventually bit the dust and decided to give the movie a chance with its upcoming DVD release. Moments after having seen the film, I'm now more pleased with my decision to check the film out. This is a good film that's not really Oscar worthy like I mentioned, but its still a good movie to watch.

Plot Outline:
Michael Clayton (George Clooney) is a fixer of problems for a leading law firm which experiences a crisis as its leading legal mind, Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson) has a breakdown as he defends an industrial giant, U-North, from a multi-billion dollar lawsuit. U-North's corporate counsel Karen Crowder (Tilda Swinton) grows worried and realizes that Edens may have some other agenda in mind that may threaten U-North so she orders a couple of men to eliminate the problem. Add to this Clayton's own woes as he owes loan sharks big money. As Clayton attempts to help Edens, a tragedy occurs which intervenes with Clayton's own values and tests his skill to delve deeper into an insidious world of corporate greed and murder. How far he is willing to go to save his own skin or find justice even if it risks his well being to a defining point in his life.

Michael Clayton is an interesting yet provocative tale. The story starts out with someone talking in the background with the music getting louder and more intense. The films plot gets really interesting in the beginning with alot of characters being introduced, but I didn't find the actual story to be something unique. The film has this intense gritty look going for it and it works well because it creates an atmosphere that's well suited for this film. Not everything is so swell because even though Michael Clayton may have an interesting story, the plot can sometimes linger from simple to complex because their are certain things we still don't know yet. I didn't leave this movie knowing everything about it and I still have some unanswered questions. Never the less, this is still a good story we have from first time director Tony Gilroy who has been writing the screenplay for the Jason Bourne series since day one.

The cast of Michael Clayton is great. I found everyone to be great in their respected roles. George Clooney plays as Michael Clayton who is the main lead in the film and hes really great in his role. He gives a great performance that I found very entertaining and at least Oscar worthy for a nomination. Tom Wilkinson plays as Arthur Edens and he too gives a great performance. Just from the start of the film you can already tell that hes giving a great performance that's every bit as good as Clooney gives as Clayton. Sydney Pollack plays as Marty Bach and he gives a pretty good performance although I have seen better roles he has played in. We also have Michael O'Keefe playing as Barry Grissom and its kind of weird seeing him playing such a serious role. Tilda Swinton plays as Karen Crowder and she seems very suitable for her part. I enjoyed her role in this film.

The visual look of the film isn't something that's going to knock you off your socks. The film has a gritty look to it that it makes everything seem alittle too dark. We have some grain that is apparent though out the film, but I'm pretty sure its the directors style for it being their. Michael Clayton also features some pale colors because everything looks just muted. We have this overcast feel to the films atmosphere. It works well with the movies plot and scenario. The movie benefits from being a recent release with detail being very noticeable. The source also seems pretty clean expect with the grain off course. The movie also has some nice cinematography that was done by Robert Elswit who also won an Academy Award for his brilliant work on There Will Be Blood.

The soundtrack for Michael Clayton is somewhat of a mixed bag. The music is composed by James Newton Howard who also composed hits such as Batman Begins and King Kong. The film has a score that works really well for it, but its hardly used to the point where its something memorable. Its also very dull and not loud enough. While I do have to take into consideration that this isn't the type of movie that requires an epic score like Star Wars, but its just a shame that their isn't something more to this films soundtrack. I guess I was just expecting more. While the score of the movie might not be groundbreaking, the dialogue is exceptionally great. Since this is a heavy dialogue driven film, I'm glad to see the dialogue sounding pretty crisp and clean. Bass work is on the low side with hardly any bass used.

Michael Clayton is a good film that I found very intriguing. I might have passed on it when it was in theaters, but this movie just as rocks on DVD as it did in theaters. The story is an interesting thriller that works to some extent because we still get left with some questions we need answered. The cast is great with some of the cast members giving great performances that is Oscar worthy. The visual look of the film is gritty with colors being muted. The soundtrack for the film works on some levels, but isn't as memorable as say other films in the same league. In the end, its up to you to decided if you want to give this film a chance. I found the film to be interesting and is definitely worth a rental at least. A good movie for Tony Gilroy's first director debut.

Grade: B-

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