Paramount Home Video
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey, Rob Reiner, Margot Robbie
I will watch any movie by Martin Scorsese, just as I will watch just about anything with Leonardo DiCaprio in it these days. Therefore I was naturally excited to give "The Wolf of Wall Street" a try when the Blu.Ray Disc arrived on my desk, courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. Little prepared me for what was to come, though.
Starring as a young, but incredibly hungry, stockbroker in New York City, Jordan Bettfort is a quick study. But even his charisma and success in the firm does not prevent him from getting laid off when the firm hits hard times during a recession. Trying to find a new job he ends up with a small company of inept brokers, dealing in penny stocks. Showing them how it's done in the big leagues, he quickly becomes the ringleader of this misfit outfit and soon opens his own brokerage. Hiring some of his colleagues, well knowing that what they lacked in personality or skill, they would make up for in mad devotion and ambition, Jordan begins to concoct a variety of schemes to sell worthless stocks to his clients while laughing all the way to the bank.
His entire company is set up with only one purpose, to male him richer every day so that he could continue living his orgiastic lifestyle. From company orgies to high end hookers pleasuring his employees openly in the office, all the way to sniffing towers of cocaine and escaping the real world with other drugs and alcohol, Jordan's life is one never-ending party of decadence and debauchery. But it all has to come to an end, of course, and as his excesses mount, so do his schemes, until they catch the eye of the FBI. Never taking the law seriously, Jordan is firmly convinced that he has everyone beat and can best anyone, even himself.
"The Wolf of Wall Street" is a remarkable film, really, and although we know the Scorsese can dish out violence and cusswords in his movies like there is no tomorrow, I was surprised at the level of sex in this film. Befitting the orgies that Jordan Bettfort is celebrating ad perpetuum, the film shows every kind of sexual indulgence quite explicitly without shying away from full frontal nudity. Be forewarned, therefore, that this film is not for the prudish at heart.
But behind the orgasmic excess on display is a true story here, based on the real life exploits of Jordan Bettfort, and the film makes sure to five us an impression of how reckless these Wall Street sharks deal with their own lives, as well as that of others. It shows how there is absolutely no remorse in the lying and cheating world of stock brokers where only the holy dollar rules. If there is any way in hell to make more money, these guys will find it and they will happily destroy people's lives doing so by grabbing the cash and hanging their clients out to dry. The inhumanity of the financial world is exemplified here by the fact that the characters we are witnessing are completely removed from the real world. Limitations do not apply to them. Restraint is a word not part of their vocabulary, and emotions are as shallow as the champagne glasses they sip their bubbly from. Riding high on their own success, their own egos and their own drug-induced highs, people become interchangeable and money a worthless numbers game. Despite all the outrageous spectacle, Martin Scorsese manages to bring all of the to the screen in this powerful romp, once again presenting us with characters we love to hate. Never unsympathetic, characters like Bettfort are truly the scum of our society and yet we watch gleefully at their antics and even find ourselves rooting for them, while at the same time wishing for them to get their comeuppance. We laugh at their almost inhuman stupidity but at the same time admire the smartness with which they manage to fool everyone.
Leonardo DiCaprio is once again the perfect fit for this film, his fifth collaboration with Martin Scorsese after delivering the goods for him in films such as "The Departed" and "Shutter Island." And yet again, DiCaprio manages to infuse his character with so much personality and quirks that you just can't stop watching him. Clearly one of the best character actors of our time, DiCaprio once again carries this film with such ease that makes it look effortless. Jonah Hill serves as his sidekick, doing what he always does, playing the annoyingly talkative nerd. He is not much of an actor, more of a one-trick pony, really, and is every bit as grating as you would expect.
Paramount Home Entertainment is presenting "The Wolf of Wall Street" in a 1080p high definition transfer on this disc that is as superbly colorful as the story and the production itself. Rich in detail, with sharp edges and clean delineation of contrasts and hues, the transfer looks modern and pays full tribute to Blu-Ray's capabilities. Black levels are solid and give the image good visual depth, while colors are vibrant and pop off the screen.
The audio presentation is equally impressive pumping out the party music as well as the score with equal bravado, while making sure dialogue is always clean, clear and understandable. Without sibilance or distortion, the track has a wide frequency response with a solid bass extension for a boisterous surround experience.
The release is surprisingly sparse when it comes to bonus features. There is a single featurette on the disc, giving you few interview soundbites from cast members as you explore a look behind the scenes. It is mere EPK material really without any significant meat. I was sorely missing a proper look at the real events and story behind the film's characters, which I feel should be considered obligatory for any film based on real events. Sadly, not even the slightest information was provided on that end, giving me the impression that the studio is, perhaps, holding out for a larger Special Edition some time down the road.
"The Wolf of Wall Street" is not a film for everyone. It is brash, loud, in your face and very overt. At the same time it offers up a glimpse into a world few of us have any idea even exists to the extent that you may want to think twice before throwing your money at some supposedly well-meaning stockbroker. Despite its three-hour running length I enjoyed the film and its raw energy tremendously, and I think you should definitely give it a try yourself.