Wednesday, October 10, 2024

Michael Clayton

The George Clooney starrer Michael Clayton is the kind of film that makes you want to clap or cheer at the end when the protag achieves a dubious sort of moral victory. Tony Gilroy directs in a confident manner, surely more able than other first time helmers. Gilroy has previously written many hit movies including the recent Bourne Ultimatum.
Clayton, not really a cop although his brother is a detective, and not actually a lawyer, works as a cleaner for a top law firm. When there's a problem Clayton's the one you call. Or as Clooney explains it in an impassioned speech: "I'm not the guy you kill, I'm the guy you buy off for$65,000."
The plot revolves around a class action lawsuit against a chemical company (think Erin Brockovich) and the lawyer (Tom Wilkinson in top form) handcuffing the various plantiffs has a pang of consciousness that leads to a breakdown. That's the cue to send in Clayton, although at this point he himself begins to feel some of his own pangs of consciousness.
The film has a sleek look and tight pacing. Add some high tension from supporting actors like Tilda Swinton and Sydney Pollack to bring the film to a full boil. There's a lot of dialogue and a few story turns that might lose an audience more attuned to CGI explosions. Michael Clayton has surveillance intrigue and only one explosion, but it's a smart film.


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