The Wolf of Wall Street Blu-ray Review
Martin Scorsese’s THE WOLF OF WALL STREET is a sprawling, fast paced epic that brings back memories of the director’s finest films. For three hours, Scorsese gave us a tale of greed, debauchery and chaos that proved to be an insane and incredibly entertaining ride. Maybe the film is irresponsible with its portrayal of the events and the lack of repercussions, but it’s such a fun journey that the audience can forgive the glorification. THE WOLF OF WALL STREET isn’t meant to be a moral lesson, it’s simply a story about one man’s obsession with drugs, sex and money.
Leonardo DiCaprio is Jordan Belfort; a young, eager stock broker determined to make it on Wall Street. But when his firm goes under after the crash of ’87, Belfort is forced to look for stock-type work elsewhere. That leads him to a small firm that sells penny stocks. Belfort has a naturally charismatic way of selling and he uses his skills to push the garbage stocks. After he realizes he could make more money on his own, he and his friend Donnie (Jonah Hill) start their own firm. DiCaprio breaks the fourth wall several times in the film, usually to explain what the firm is doing and why it’s illegal. Even with that, the details of what they’re doing might be lost on some people that aren’t familiar with stocks. But as the money starts rolling in, Belfort’s spiral into debauchery picks up, culminating with crazy parties, midget throwing contests, cocaine binges and frivolous spending. Of course, this can’t go on forever and eventually the firm’s craziness gets the attention of the FBI and Belfort’s days become numbered.
The film has a runtime of just under three hours, but when the final credits rolled, I couldn’t believe the three hours were up. Out of all the film’s positives, the most important factor might be the pacing. Scorsese did a brilliant job of keeping everything rolling quickly, never allowing the audience to get bored. Although the basic premise is simple, the details of Jordan Belfort’s demise are pretty complicated and a lesser director might have allowed the film to slow down. The great acting, great writing and great story all came together and worked because of Scorsese’s talent.
Leonardo DiCaprio’s career is filled with Oscar-worthy performances, but his portrayal of Jordan Belfort might be his best performance yet. For the first time since WHAT’S EATING GILBERT GRAPE, DiCaprio challenged his physical and emotional acting range. We’ve never seen DiCaprio in a comedic role, but a lot of THE WOLF OF WALL STREET is a comedy and it’s made funny by DiCaprio’s incredible performance. For example, the Quaalude breakdown at the county club had me laughing so hard I had to pause the disc, but it was all because of DiCaprio. It was him alone on camera, overdosing on Quaaludes, without anyone to play off of. It’s an incredible scene that will stick out when people look back on his career.
As great as the film is, the controversy surrounding its deeper moral implications shouldn’t be ignored. After all, this true story was made possible because the real Jordan Belfort ruined a lot of people’s lives. To contrast, the 2001 film BOILER ROOM revolved around a stock broker firm that did the same kind of thing that Belfort did; they hired sleazy salesmen to hard sell garbage stocks. But BOILER ROOM at least addressed the impact they had on people and how lives were destroyed because of them. WOLF OF WALL STREET is clearly a superior film, but for three hours, we watch a guy do drugs, have sex and spend money wildly without any remorse or punishment. Scorsese never really addresses the ramifications of Belfort’s actions and instead focuses hard on the party lifestyle he lived and how great it was. I’ll leave the question of whether or not Scorsese had an obligation to paint Belfort in a less flattering light up to you. The challenge, of course, is that the real Belfort never suffered for his actions and to this day is living a pretty good life overseas.
Moral implications aside, THE WOLF OF WALL STREET is a remarkable and fun film. With a career best performance from Leonardo DiCaprio, Wolf will have you gasping and laughing for the full three hours. The film definitely isn’t for everyone as Belfort is snorting cocaine off a hooker in the first five minutes. If that, or the idea that the film glamorizes Belfort’s actions offend you, then you may want to skip this one. For those of us that understand how horrible of a person Belfort is and how his actions hurt so many people, we can sit back and enjoy the ride that Scorsese took us on.
THE WOLF OF WALL STREET BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: THE WOLF OF WALL STREET looks fantastic on Blu-ray.
Audio: The audio was just as impressive.
A movie this great deserved more than one lousy featurette. All movies based on true stories need a featurette dedicated to the true story. It would have also been nice to get a commentary track to hear about how they filmed some of the crazier scenes. And with a rumored 4 hour cut of the film, we should have gotten some deleted scenes.
The Wolf Pack (17:00): Given the lack of features, I guess we should be thankful for something. This is more of a fluff piece and only barely touches on the subjects we’re interested in. I wanted to hear more about why Scorsese and DiCaprio were so obsessed making this movie and how they reacted to the controversy, among other things.