65%Overall Score
Reader Rating: (6 Votes)

The Wolf of Wall Street  is a black comedy that depicts what could be considered the American dream if that ambition involved copious amounts of narcotics, Swiss bank accounts and prostitutes.  A career in politics comes to mind.  Martin Scoresese’s portrayal of the lavish and ridiculous lifestyle of Jordan Belfort seems it will play out like the typical rise and fall narratives of greed within the corporate world.  However, during the 179-minute runtimes we are really only given half of the story.  Yes the film has an ending, but it is quite obvious the story doesn’t, and this isn’t the type of spectacle that has a sequel.  The narrative slugs along at the pace of a quaalude induced Belfort, remaining essentially stagnant throughout.

Based on the true story of Belfort, played wonderfully by Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street uses the camera as a spyglass into the over-energized world of stock brokers.  The protagonist starts his own company, Stratton Oakmont, after being let go by another firm early in his career.  Belfort uses an illegal pump and dump scan that helped his company become one of the elite firms in the city that is the Mecca of the western economic world.  This is the fifth time Scorsese and DiCaprio have teamed up and the experienced director lets his star carry the film throughout its long duration.  The story is told entirely from Belfort’s perspective and begins with us seeing a glimpse of the fortune and drug-induced insanity he has acquired.

Belfort meets his partner in crime, Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill), early on and although entertaining, Azoff is no war-time consigliere.  However, their chemistry is superb and every scene with Hill involved usually leaves to laughs.  Due to the questionable ethics practiced by this duo in their company and the amount of drug usage under Stratton Oakmont, the firm inevitably becomes a target of the FBI.  Leading the case against Belfort and company is Agent Patrick Denham (Kyle Chandler), who is described as a real boy scout.


Along the way, Stratton Oakmont creates an agreement with Steve Madden Ltd. to take their company public, and immediately after doing so Belfort cashes in a cool $22 million.  It definitely goes to his head as his lifestyle involving prostitution and drug abuse start to take a wild left turn for the worse.  During this time, Jordan gets divorced to his wife, but then married again to his girlfriend Naomi (Margot Robbie).   He sets up Swiss bank accounts in one Naomi’s relatives’ names, but this story has been told before, just not with as much cursing.

By the time the three hours are over you are left with an immense feeling of disappointment.  This is in no way attributed to the execution of the film by Scorsese or the the phenomenal acting, but rather the story relying on shock value instead of going for an original concept.  There are quite a few comparisons that can be made to Goodfellas, as they both approach the American dream through flamboyant narratives, but in The Wolf of Wall Street we are left without satisfaction.


The Wolf of Wall Street
Directed by Martin Scorcese
With Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill


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